Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Chronic shortage of Health Visitors and Maternity beds

I would like to add my support to the need for more health visitors, as outlined in a report in The Guardian

A chronic shortage of NHS health visitors has resulted in newborn babies not being seen at home until they are almost four months old, according to the association that represents the profession.

Local managers have resigned in protest over patient safety in one London borough, while pleas for a recruitment drive have failed to deliver results, according to Norma Dudley, chair of the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association (CPHVA) in the capital.

There is much evidence out there, e.g. from research from Sheffield and Canada, to show how visits by health visitors can reduce the symptoms of postnatal depression.
We know that this illness can have long-term effects on all the family, not just the mother - so surely putting resources in to minimise the long term effects of postnatal illness makes both emotional and financial sense?

Likewise today there is the headline in The Daily Mail about the lack of maternity beds and shortage of midwives.

Thousands of women are having to give birth outside maternity wards because of a lack of midwives and hospital beds.

The lives of mothers and babies are being put at risk as births in locations ranging from lifts to toilets - even a caravan - went up 15 per cent last year to almost 4,000.

Health chiefs admit a lack of maternity beds is partly to blame for the crisis, with hundreds of women in labour being turned away from hospitals because they are full.

Again I plead for more and better maternity services. The trauma of birth again can result in mental health problems for some mothers. They need both physical and mental health needs attending to, and not just in and out on a conveyor belt system. Many of the midwives I have spoken to are dedicated staff but at the end of their tether for the crazy work loads they face. If we do not get more staff and facilities in place not only will quality of life suffer for many but lives will be lost.

I have just spent almost a week in hospital myself at York with gynaecological problems. I have to say that the care and attention I received was second to none. The staff were attentive to my every need - surely those giving birth should be entitled to the same levels of care?

Elaine Hanzak

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