July 16, 2015

Not enough maternity beds in Glasgow

MIDWIVES battling bed cuts at Glasgow's maternity hospitals have seen numbers cut by more than a quarter, new figures show.

While admissions have risen and fallen over the past three years in the city's hospitals, bed numbers have dropped by as much as 27% in the past three years.

Midwives claim they are facing "extreme pressure" to discharge new mums as soon as possible because of capacity pressures.

One midwife told the Evening Times a mother had recently been discharged at 2am.

In 2012, there were 152 maternity beds at the Southern General and the Princes Royal Maternity Hospital. Additional beds were also provided at the Queen Mum's hospital, which has now closed.

By May 2015, the number of beds available - antenatal and postnatal - had been reduced to 115 - a drop of 24%.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde say a decision was taken five years ago to reduce bed numbers across maternity services because "bed occupancy was low at the time" and patient stay was higher than average.

The board said additional beds are opened if numbers were inadequate for admission numbers.

However, staff say the cuts have left them facing pressure from managers to discharge new mums.
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Figures obtained by Freedom of Information laws show beds at the Princess Royal Maternity have been reduced from 80 in January 2012 to 58 in May 2015 - a 27% drop.

Staff said the problem has been compounded by a decision to move urology patients from Gartnavel, including men, into the maternity hospital.

Ward 6AB of Gartnavel, a mixed urology ward, has been relocated to ward 70 of the maternity hospital, where new mums recover after they give birth.

The figures also show that there are less maternity beds at Glasgow's new hospital than the old Southern General.

In January there were 72 beds at the Southern compared with 57 at the new hospital.

Gillian Smith, of the Royal College of Midwives in Scotland, said she would be concerned if any mother was discharged at 2am who hadn't chosen to go home at that time.

She added: "We have to ensure that post-natal services in the community are adequate and we are not discharging women who have clinical care requirements or who require support.

"I would encourage any members of staff who believes a women isn't ready to go home to challenge it."

A spokeswoman for NHSGGC said: "Approximately five years ago it was agreed, in consultation with staff and partner organisations, that the number of beds across maternity services in Glasgow would reduce. Bed occupancy was low at the time and patient length of stay was higher than average.

"A phased reduction in bed numbers was put in place and processes implemented to support timely discharge for women who were suitable and who wished to go home earlier.

"The reduction in bed numbers was achieved around 18 months ago and our new bed modelling is flexible to allow additional bed capacity to be opened at times of peak demand.

"Staffing however, has not reduced in line with the bed reductions as the overall activity remains unchanged."

MIDWIVES contacted the Evening Times to share their experiences of working with reduced bed numbers including one from the Princes Royal Maternity hospital.

She said: "Staff are under extreme stress and pressure to get patients out ASAP even though they feel they could do with another day in. Management are on their our case to vacate the beds.

"Only a few months ago a mum and baby got to go home at 2am in the morning.

"Many times, patients and partners are sitting in the patients dining room as there are no beds ready for them.

"Staff are run into the ground. Staff on a 12-hour sometimes do not get any breaks. Morale is very low.

"Management see all these issues on a daily basis but do nothing to help their staff.
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"Urology mixed ward should not be in a maternity hospital. Mothers in labour are now moved to the 6th floor which is even further from the labour ward, putting patients at risk.

"Staff can't speak out about these issues, only hope that someone can step in and get this sorted before something goes wrong." Friend Link:New Beats Studio,

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