Homerton Hospital: Stop the reduction in the home birth team and maintain home birth as a real choice for women in Hackney
  • Petitioned Tracey Fletcher

This petition was delivered to:

CEO, Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Tracey Fletcher
Divisonal Operations Director
Daniel Waldron

Homerton Hospital: Stop the reduction in the home birth team and maintain home birth as a real choice for women in Hackney

    1. Petition by

      Rebecca Schiller

      United Kingdom

December 2012


From Rebecca Schiller: Petitioners Celebrate Positive News on Home Birth in Hackney. Following a meeting with representatives of the home birth campaigners, Homerton University Hospital NHS Trust commits to changing its decision making process, producing a new home birth strategy in collaboration with the local community and allowing women in the last two months of their pregnancy to retain 'on call' care from the midwife being rotated off the team.

I am pleased to let you know that the strength of feeling and sheer volume of responses to the issue prompted a meeting on Tuesday between Joan Douglas (Head of Midwifery at Homerton), Daniel Waldron (Divisional Operations Director), myself, Elizabeth Prochaska (Hackney resident, Homerton volunteer, barrister) and Karen Elmes (recent home birth team user). We presented the Homerton team with the petition of over 1000 signatures and a selection of the comments that we have received in support and praise of the home birth service in Hackney.

The group representing the petitioners were able to communicate that: - the nature of the caseloading service meant that women were directly affected when changes were made and that the Trust had a responsibility to these women - that the Homerton home birth team were hugely popular with the local community and that changes to the model were inevitably going to be met with concern - that the service the home birth team provide was seen by many, including other Trusts and midwives, as setting a gold-standard for maternity provision - that we felt the service should be celebrated, promoted and the comments received over the past weeks used as positive communications for the Trust - that many women were unhappy to be parted from their midwife, particularly those in the final trimester of pregnancy and would be keen to retain her care - that there is keen interest, investment and commitment to protecting and expanding home birth provision in the area - that the caseloading element of the service is what women are most passionate about The Homerton team were able to clarify that: - the team was being now being reduced to five not four members as the midwife who has elected to go on secondment will be replaced - that this reduction was based on a lower home birth rate and smaller caseload of late - that increased demand for the service would lead to an increase in midwife provision once again - that they were committed to and passionate about providing a viable home birth service in Hackney and Waltham Forest At the end of the meeting the group had reached a consensus as to the way forwards.

Those representing Homerton University Hospital NHS trust committed to the following three key action points that we asked of them: 1. That they would take on board the degree of distress at the decision, the lack of stakeholder involvement in this decision and lack of communication around it. They had learnt from this process and would take these lessons on board in future when considering proposals which might impact on service users. They would also seek service user participation in any future decision making process. 2. That they would commit to producing an in-depth strategy for the provision and promotion of home birth in the Trust's catchment area. That they would request the involvement of the MSLC (Maternity Services Liaison Committee) with this process, key members of the midwifery team, volunteers, service-users and representatives from the petitioners in devising and implementing this strategy. This strategy will be entirely collaborative and will seek to widen access to, knowledge of and uptake of home birth in the area. 3. That they would work with those women, in the last two months of their pregnancy, who have been directly affected by the rotation of a midwife away from the team. The midwife will continue to be part of the homebirth on call rota during this period.

Though this has been a difficult and stressful time for many, those at the meeting felt that real progress and positive change could come out of it.

We will of course keep you updated about how this progresses and ensure you have the chance to participate in developing and delivering the new home birth strategy. In the meantime I will be suspending the petition and thanking you all for making this possible.

For the last two years Homerton University Hospital has provided a dedicated home birth team of six midwives. This service will be drastically cut as of the end of this year leaving it unable to provide an adequate provision for home birth in Hackney.

The service has seen a growth in home birth rates and has been hugely popular with women in the area providing a caseloading service, one-to-one care, excellent statistics (9% caesarean rate against 26% in Homerton itself), real choice of place of birth and a respect for women's right to autonomy during pregnancy and birth.

Without warning or rationale the service is now being reduced to four midwives. At this reduced capacity they will be unable to provide the level of service the women of Hackney need and deserve and will be unable to promote the further growth in home birth rate.

The reduction in the service is all the more questionable in light of recent robust evidence from the Birthplace in England 2011 study (and others) that giving birth at home dramatically reduces unnecessary medical interventions whilst being the most cost-effective place of birth for NHS Trusts.

It is also in direct contracdiction of Homerton Hospital's own 'Philosophy of Care' and the recent Department of Health Maternity Mandate.

This decision needs to be reversed urgently to ensure Homerton keeps choice of place of birth, a commitment to respectful, personal, continuous and responsive maternity care and the importance of 'normal birth' at the centre of its philiosophy for the maternity services provided to the women of Hackney.

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 1,000 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Kirstie Beaven LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • almost 2 years ago

      I am currently 29 weeks pregnant with my first child and am planning a homebirth with the Homerton team. I have just found out that Angela is no longer to be my midwife, to my great disappointment. She has offered me excellent advice and support at all times and made sure that I am able to make good decisions. She is a fantastically reassuring presence, and I had hoped to continue my woman-midwife relationship with her throughout the rest of my pregnancy.

      Reducing a team that clearly does such excellent work in any case, but particularly at such short notice, seems to be at odds with the commitment to continuity that I had previously felt was assured at Homerton. This decision should be reversed as the team, and Angela specifically, clearly do an excellent job of supporting women in Hackney throughout their pregnancies to make good choices and have the best birth for them. The homebirth team are an asset to Homerton's services and to women in Hackney - everyone should be so lucky to have a midwife like Angela.

    • Pernille Leggat Ramfelt LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • almost 2 years ago

      I am considering home birth for my first child due in January

    • Dara Lorentzson LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • almost 2 years ago

      Hackney Homebirth team are vital to the community. The unwavering support I had from Angela and her team during my pregnancy is something that every woman should have. It makes no sense to effectively remove the choice to have a homebirth and no longer be supported by such wonderful & highly experienced midwives.

      • almost 2 years ago

      I have had two children in Hackney now and I absolutely support choice and Home birth and think this cut is outrageous.

    • Nyddya Conesa Lerma LELELELELE, SPAIN
      • almost 2 years ago

      Student midwife- In the Whittington Hospital the home birth team has been abolished.


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