THE provider of maternity services at community hospitals in Wiltshire will change after the Great Western Hospital's contract came to an end.
Maternity services are currently run by the Great Western Hospital (GWH), Swindon, but following a retendering of the service Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced this week it has chosen the RUH as its preferred bidder to run the £60 million contract for the next three years.
The change will mean the RUH running maternity services in its own hospital for the first time since 1992. It will also run the community maternity units at Chippenham and Trowbridge hospitals plus Frome, Paulton and Shepton Mallett.
The CCG said it was confident that there would be no re-occurence of the temporary closure of Trowbridge Birthing Unit due to staff shortages under GWH.
The RUH will take over running maternity services on June 1 and existing maternity staff will transfer to it.
A delighted James Scott, chief executive of the RUH, said: “I’d like to reassure all expectant mothers planning to give birth at our hospital or one of the community birthing centres that we are absolutely ommitted to providing them with tailored care and the highest quality service possible.”
He added that the RUH was looking forward to developing the service with maternity staff and the public.
A spokesman for Wiltshire CCG said: “The RUH was chosen due to their impressive and thorough submission across all of the assessment areas and their clear commitment to win the service back. The contracted tendered there would be no change to the services. Any changes that are proposed during the three year contract period would be subject to consultation and engagement. The community birthing units are an integral part of the service and there will be no recurrence of any unplanned closure of the units.
"We are satisfied that the RUH’s bid and its staffing model is robust and as part of the contract, as commissioners, we will be monitoring this."
GWH has been running maternity services since June 2011 when it won the contract from the then Wiltshire Primary Care Trust. In January 2013 it was criticised by the Care Quality Commission for not having enough midwives at the RUH and at GWH.
Due to the shortage of staff, midwives from Trowbridge Birthing Centre were relocated to the RUH for 12 weeks last summer while new midwives were recruited resulting in women being unable to give birth at Trowbridge.
GWH did bid to continue to run the service when it came up for retendering.
Kevin McNamara, director of strategy at GWH, said: “We are proud of the service that we have delivered over the past few years and have made improvements in safety, quality and patient experience. This includes an investment of almost £700,000 in additional midwives across the whole of our service and a massive improvement to the patient environment at the Princess Anne Wing (RUH) in Bath which has recently been completed.
“Our priority now is to work closely with the Royal United Hospital to ensure that women continue to experience the same high standards and that staff are supported through the transfer to a new employer.”