An independent midwife is being forced to “fill in the gaps of the NHS” since Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital suspended its home birth service.
Registered midwife Nicky Garrett has seen an increase in the number of enquiries from pregnant women after the hospital enforced a six-month home birth ban because of a lack of staff.
She has already attended one birth as a result of the decision and another one is planned for the end of March.
But at a cost of more than £3,000 for a full care package, including a home birth and postnatal care, it’s a luxury not everyone can afford.
Ms Garrett, 55, has been a midwife for 16 years and runs Iceni Independent Midwifery, which covers Norfolk, Suffolk, parts of Cambridgeshire and Essex.
She said: “There has definitely been an increase in the number of women who, when they have found out the home birth service has been withdrawn, have started looking round elsewhere to give them the birth they want.
“It’s not the way I want to want them to find me ideally. I don’t want to be filling in the gaps of the NHS because there just isn’t the continuity of carer. It’s less than ideal from the women’s point of view as they have to pay for something they thought they were going to get for free on the NHS and it’s not great for me as they are not coming to me out of choice, it is being forced upon them.”
She added: “My heart goes out to the families affected by the decision. At a time when they should be relaxing and looking forward to the birth, they have had the rug pulled out from underneath them.”
Ms Garrett, who lives in Diss, can only take up to 12 women a year as she specialises in one-to-one care and cannot have more than one woman at a time giving birth.
“Sadly I will not be able to accommodate all the women who are asking for my help,” she said.
Earlier this month, the QEH apologised that it had to suspend the home birth service due to a lack of midwives, and said it was concentrating on focusing its resources at the hospital.
Catherine Morgan, director of nursing and patient experience, said: “Our aim is that all parents are able to choose where the birth of their child takes place. However, we must always ensure the safety and quality of care of our mothers and babies comes first.”
As reported in the Lynn News, pregnant Cathryn Remmington joined forces with Birthrights to challenge the ruling and get the home birth service re-instated, after it prevented her from having a home birth she wanted.