Mother’s dossier details why home birth service must be reinstated in King’s Lynn

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A mother-of-five has produced a 60-page document calling for Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) to reinstate its home birth service.

Entitled ‘Birthplace Matters’, it is the second similar document in a matter of months produced by Paula Cleary, who has vowed to add a third edition at the end of the year.

In it she states: “I will repeat it again and again until the message is heard: Birthplace truly matters.”

The document includes the personal stories and messages of women affected by the decision to end the service at the end of last year.

One mother, Vanessa Cummings, of Lynn, details how she was told 30 weeks into her pregnancy that the home birth service had ended and she would not be able to have the birth she had planned.

The hospital birth she went on to have involved complications that she believes could be attributed to the stress she endured by having to give birth at QEH.

In the report she said: “I do not know is I will ever give birth again, partly because the thought now instils me with fear.

“Having had two hospital births, both with less than positive outcomes for either mother or baby, I would not feel confident having a third.”

Earlier this year, West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group, which buys in health services for the area, agreed to report the QEH to regulator Monitor for its decision to end the home birth service. The decision was in contravention of the terms of the hospital’s agreement with the CCG.

At the time, the CCG heard the QEH’s decision appeared to be based on an inability to recruit, retain or fund the necessary midwives to man a service for the relatively few women who wanted a home birth.

In her report, Mrs Cleary, of Tydd St Mary, said: “The idea of homebirth as a minority, fringe option for a select few earth mothers or some kind of indulgent or expensive luxury which compromises other mothers and puts them at risk is a convenient excuse for not providing the service and is no fault of mothers who wish to have their babies at home.

“This attitude has got to be rooted out and seen for what it is – a distraction from the truth of the matter, which is that the financial handling or mishandling of QEH budgets is not the fault or concern of service users, but their own problem to solve.”

In response to Mrs Cleary’s report, Kathryn Ellis, of West Norfolk CCG, said: “West Norfolk CCG remains committed to commissioning high quality and effective maternity services for women.

“The CCG is currently working with the Contingency Planning Team that has been put in place by health regulator Monitor to find a system-wide solution to the operational, clinical and financial challenges currently faced by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn. As part of this process the provision of maternity services in West Norfolk is being discussed and a number of potential options are being investigated to ensure sustainable, high quality services into the future . We continue to work closely with the Trust on this matter.”

A QEH spokeswoman said: “The Trust’s position remains the same and we are still in discussions with the CCG.”