Fears for home visits to new mothers

A LIFELINE for new mothers in Comet country is being cut, a childbirth charity has warned. According to the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), postnatal home visits are being cut in east and north Hertfordshire which means new mothers will have to travel to

A LIFELINE for new mothers in Comet country is being cut, a childbirth charity has warned.

According to the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), postnatal home visits are being cut in east and north Hertfordshire which means new mothers will have to travel to a clinic to receive after-birth care.

The cutbacks will affect patients at Lister, the QEII and Hertford County hospitals.

Melanie Peeke, postnatal co-ordinator for the Welwyn and district NCT branch, explained that usually a midwife makes home visits to a new mum for the first 10 days after birth.

On the 10th day a health visitor makes a home visit and is the point of contact from then on.

Ms Peeke said: "It's been the case for donkey's years but these postnatal visits will not happen as standard anymore and will be needs-assessed instead.

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"The majority of people won't get home visits anymore."

Ms Peeke said group clinics will be set up in the area, to replace home visits, and women will have to travel to receive after-birth care.

She said: "The plan has been agreed but not introduced yet.

"It will of course be cost-cutting and the only reason it hasn't started yet is because they haven't found venues."

She added: "I have had one child and I found those home visits an absolute lifeline.

"I can't imagine what it would have been like to be trying to get to a clinic for a group session.

"It sounds to me like there could be issues but until it's introduced and we understand more about the needs-assessment and who qualifies, it's difficult to comment."

A spokesman for the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust said: "While nothing has been decided yet, we know the biggest challenge midwives face is looking after those women who are experiencing problems, either with their own health, that of their babies or in caring for their babies.

"We have a limited number of midwives and we need to make sure they spend the greatest amount of time with those who need their care and advice the most.

"We are exploring the possibility of offering midwife-led clinics for women who are able to attend them a few days after their babies are born - rather like child health clinics run by health visitors.

"If this idea goes ahead - and it has yet even to be discussed with the primary care trusts - then it would free up midwives to spend more time with women who are experiencing the greatest problems.

"The Trust will of course continue to involve groups like the NCT as its plans begin to evolve, but it is important to stress that nothing has been agreed.

"So as far as home visits by midwives are concerned, nothing has been changed.

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