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Ealing maternity closure has brought 'positives' to Hillingdon

"It's been a positive thing for us because we've been able to put services into place that we've never been able to do before"

Hillingdon Maternity Ward

The closure of the maternity unit at Ealing Hospital has brought “positives” to Hillingdon, according to the head of the maternity department there.

Hillingdon Hospital opened a new transitional care area in the last week, for babies that need extra support, along with a new birth centre with a four-bedded midwifery-led unit that has gone from “strength-to-strength”.

Hilling Hospital's head of midwifery and women’s care Anita Hutchins said: “It's been a positive thing for us because we've been able to put services into places that we've never been able to do before.

“The staff are loving it, the women have been really positive about it, and it's fantastic that we can now offer that.”

Around 8-10% of women at Hillingdon Hospital came from Ealing, but now the geographical threshold has expanded to include UB5, UB2 and UB1 postcodes.

“We've taken a very specific geographical patch from Ealing with specific postcodes attached," Ms Hutchins added.

"One of the things we've guaranteed is that we'll always deliver our own ladies in Hillingdon and this extra patch which is now ours.

“We'll be going up from about 4,200 deliveries to 5,000 a year.”

Ealing Maternity Unit closed on July 1 despite local demonstrations and tireless campaigning.

But Ms Hutchins says the changes have been a “win-win” for Hillingdon Hospital, in terms of capacity and space.

She added: “We knew there were challenges with the old unit, it was quite small but now it's got clinical rooms, (a) reception, office space - and it's really nice.

"We've also moved our small maternity triage area and we've been able to relocate some of our services such as the gynaecology unit which has gone to the main hospital.

“That's given us a lot of space to set up the new services. One of things we've been able to do is develop a larger maternity triage for the women and that's really good for things like privacy, dignity and confidentiality.

“We've got all the choices for women now and that's fantastic for us, for the women and staff.”

The hospital's maternity services were also pleased to have been awarded a Certificate of Commitment’ from the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI).

The (BFI) is an accredited UNICEF and WHO programme designed to support breastfeeding. It is an international programme aimed at promoting breastfeeding with the aim to reduce illness in babies and children.

It also helps protect mothers from breast and ovarian cancer, and cardiovascular disease in later life.

In a statement, Ms Hutchins added: “We are delighted that we have been recognised by UNICEF for our commitment to our women and their families. This is the first step towards our journey to full Baby Friendly accreditation.

“At Hillingdon our primary purpose is to ensure that women choosing to have their babies with us are provided the best possible evidence based care, support and advice, and BFI is one of the many improvements we are making to help us to continue to provide first class maternity care.”

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