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Home birth services are up and running again in Suffolk and north Essex

PUBLISHED: 21:52 13 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:31 14 May 2020

Six more patients with coronavirus have died at hospitals in Suffolk and north Essex. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Six more patients with coronavirus have died at hospitals in Suffolk and north Essex. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Pregnant women once again have the choice of home births in Suffolk and north Essex after it had been on hold due to the coronavirus crisis.

The East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) service at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals had been suspended due to the pandemic, but yesterday it resumed.

The home birth service at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which runs West Suffolk Hospital, also restarted on May 1.

The temporary suspensions had been to keep both staff and patients safe during the Covid-19 outbreak.

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ESNEFT’s director of midwifery, Anna Shasha, said: “We’re committed to offering women the choice about where to have their babies and providing them with the option of a home birth, when appropriate, is important to us.

“We have staff and safety measures in place and I now feel confident we can resume the home birth service.

“As part of our commitment to keep everyone safe, we will continue to constantly monitor our services and we will keep home births under review as the pandemic continues. If we need to make any changes in the future we will let people know immediately.”

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Women who had already booked to have a home birth in the coming weeks are being contacted by midwives to let them know the service is up and running again.

The trust’s midwifery teams will continue to risk assess every woman’s suitability for a home birth at the time of booking and as their pregnancy progresses to maintain their safety and that of their unborn child.

It is also still safe to come into hospital at this time if you are booked to have your baby in one of the maternity units, but new arrangements for postnatal appointments and visiting do apply.

Midwives are available to answer pregnancy-related questions or concerns through ESNEFT’s maternity helpline.

For Colchester Hospital, call 07843 502953 between 8.30am and 12.30pm, and from 1.30pm to 6pm Monday to Friday. The line is monitored until 4pm at weekends and on bank holidays.

For Ipswich Hospital, call 01473 702666 between 8am to 8pm seven days a week.

These are not emergency or labour numbers.

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