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Eye On Maternity Services - Caithness
7 August 2001



 The review of maternity services in Highland is complete and has been presented to Highland Health Board members today.

 The review calls for a Highland wide maternity service to be designed around the needs of women, with midwife managed care being the norm for the majority of low risk pregnancies.

 The review also supports the retention of consultant obstetric services in Caithness General Hospital, but with a recognition that change and development of the service is required.

 Review Group Chairman, Ann Bethune – who is also the vice-chairman of Highland Health Council – presented the paper with its 41 recommendations to Board members.  The review points towards a change of direction for maternity services throughout Highland with midwifery managed care being the norm throughout low-risk pregnancies; but with appropriate clinical support being available to deal with complications. Others include more training and support for midwives and other professionals involved in maternity care.

 “It is the move towards a single maternity service throughout the region,” says Ann Bethune, “which concentrates on the needs of women, offers them choices throughout their pregnancy pathway and supports them throughout which is key in this review.  Pregnancy is a normal, albeit highly significant, part of many women’s lives.  As such the health service must treat them as active participants in that process.  They must be fully engaged with and allowed to explore choices that are important to them.”

Supporting the review, Board Chairman Caroline Thomson said:

 “This has been the most extensive, participative review process that any of us can remember about a single service in the Highlands.  It has pointed out so many examples of good practice locally; along with a need to roll these examples out throughout the region.  We have met the standards laid down for us in the recently published national framework for maternity services in Scotland but we have recognised the realities of providing health services in the most remote part of Britain.  We are a Board which listens and acts on the basis of sound judgement.  We have listened to women and communities who use and value the services; to professionals who provide those services and to other expert agencies.”

 Nigel Hobson, Director of Quality & Nursing, who will be chairing the group implementing the review said:

 “To do justice to this review we will need to manage its implementation well with agreed milestones and markers to signal what has been achieved.  The real value of all of the good work that has gone on will be when we have made the developments outlined in this review a reality for women and staff.”