Huge funding boost for North Essex maternity services

Colchester General Hospital is preparing to open their new Radiotherapy Centre.

Colchester General Hospital is preparing to open their new Radiotherapy Centre. - Credit: Su Anderson

Maternity services in north east Essex have been awarded almost £375,000 to make improvements.

They money comes after a successful application to the NHS Litigation Authority by Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust (CHUFT), which runs services in the area.

The £371,758.91 grant is from the Sign up to Safety fund, part of a national campaign launched last June which aims to halve the number of avoidable harm incidents within three years – and save 6,000 lives.

Additional staff, including three senior midwives and a consultant obstetrician, will be brought in using the money, as well as buy additional equipment such as a £60,000 ultrasound scanning machine.

The trust’s bid was one of 67 winning applications, out of a total of 243.

Dymphna Sexton-Bradshaw, head of midwifery, said the Trust had seen the fund as a wonderful opportunity to further improve safety for mothers and their unborn babies.

She said: “Our application focused on trying to gain funding for staff and equipment which will help us to improve the way we monitor babies during pregnancy and birth.

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“Therefore, we applied for specialist equipment and software as well as for training for staff.

“The role of one of three additional senior midwives will be to lead and support the implementation of a fetal monitoring training programme.”

She added that the trust had made a number of improvements in recent years, including increasing consultant presence on the delivery suite at Colchester General Hospital from 60 hours to 78 hours a week and setting up a second obstetric operating theatre.

A maternity triage unit, where women can be assessed when they have medical problems in pregnancy and when they are in early labour, has also been founded.

Jo Osborne, consultant obstetrician, added: “We are very excited about being able to recruit another specialist obstetrician to our team.

“The new scanning machine and the specialist scanning midwives will help us to detect small babies who are more likely to get into difficulty during labour and birth.

“The new software will help to improve the monitoring and detection of abnormalities in the pattern of babies’ heart rates in labour, improving the chance of healthy babies.

“We are committed to improving the experience for all families using our services.”

CHUFT runs maternity services at Colchester General, Clacton, Harwich and Halstead hospitals, and in the community.