Pregnant women will be soon be able to tailor their birthing options as part of a new scheme piloted in the borough.
The Pioneer programme, run throughout Wigan, Bolton and Salford NHS trusts, will see expectant mums offered a wider choice of services and more options around their antenatal care and birth.
As part of the £4.4m overall project, local mums-to-be will have the option to give birth in Wigan, Salford or Bolton depending on their preference and what type of birth they would like. Chiefs have insisted that the borough’s maternity services will not be downgraded as a result of the programme.
Pauline Law, director of nursing at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust, said: “The trust is very proud and excited to be an NHS England Maternity Service Pioneer along with our partners, Salford Royal NHS FT and Royal Bolton NHS FT.
“This pilot is a great opportunity to increase women’s options and to improve access to maternity services. They will also have a greater choice of antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care, which we know will improve new and expectant mums’ experiences.”
“Relieving pressure in maternity departments is not the purpose of the pilot. The fundamental aim is to improve women’s choice and knowledge of options available to them. The effects of this important work will be monitored, and the activity and uptake of the pilot will form shared learning across the national networks.”
The scheme will initially only be available via a “small number” of GP practices but is expected to be rolled out to all surgeries in 2018 if the pilot is successful.
It is aimed at low risk women on the standard maternity pathway, who will be referred and signposted to specialist services. Women will have the option of referral to a provider of their choice within the five commissioned providers available during the pilot stage.
Dr Tim Dalton, chair of Wigan Borough NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “As part of the pilot, pregnant women in Wigan will be given the choice of using the new Freestanding Midwifery Unit in Salford once it is procured, as well as the services they can currently choose from. This extends the current choice of providers that women have in Wigan. The maternity services in Wigan borough will not be downgraded as a result of this work.”
Salford’s maternity department is set to close in September, with Salford CCG announcing that a “better” facility will be open by October.