The Northern Trust confirmed today that it has taken the decision to temporarily suspend bookings for its Homebirth Service.
Safety for homebirth requires the availability of skilled experienced midwifery staffing and rapid paramedic ambulance transfer facilities, when needed.
The Trust’s most recent communication with NIAS confirms that its service is currently experiencing extreme pressures due to the volume of calls and delays at Emergency Departments and that whilst all calls are triaged, there may a delay to NIAS response times and an immediate response cannot be guaranteed, although NIAS will always seek to provide the most immediate response possible to the most clinically urgent calls.
The impact of a delay in an emergency response during a homebirth could have devastating consequences and it is in the interests of the safety and wellbeing of women and their babies that this decision is being taken. This will be reviewed on a weekly basis and the service will be reinstated as soon as possible.
The reasons for this temporary suspension will also be discussed with women who have already booked for the Homebirth Service. However, if these women continue to choose to have their baby at home despite the advice, as is their right, we will provide a midwifery on-call rota. At present, midwifery staffing levels are challenging due to community transmission levels and staff needing to self-isolate, however at present we are combining teams to provide an on-call rota.