Northampton General Hospital looking at bringing back suspended home birth service as NHS starts to reopen

"We are reviewing all our services so we can provide care in an environment that is safe for our patients and staff."
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Northampton General Hospital (NGH) is looking at reinstating its home birth service after suspending it during the coronavirus crisis.

The hospital said it is looking at changing the layout of clinics to maintain social distancing as the services begin to return to normal.

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A spokesperson for NGH said: "Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic we have continued to provide essential emergency and urgent care and diagnostic services for our patients.

Northampton General HospitalNorthampton General Hospital
Northampton General Hospital

"Understandably, many of our services had to adapt and introduce new ways of working in order to keep our patients safe, including using video and telephone outpatient and follow-up clinics.

"We are now actively involved in reviewing all our services so we can provide care in an environment that is safe for our patients and staff.

"This work includes revising the layout of clinics to maintain social distancing.

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"Our home birth service had to be suspended, but we are now looking at reinstating the service."

Hospitals across the country are restarting routine and non-urgent operations after direction from NHS England.

But unions have warned that services must only come back when it is safe to do so with enough testing and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The NGH spokesman said they have been fortunate to maintain adequate stocks of PPE for staff throughout the pandemic.

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The 17 unions – including Unison, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, British Medical Association, Unite and GMB – have drawn up a blueprint for the NHS to reopen to the public.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: “Tackling Covid has been a huge challenge, but this next phase will be a crucial test too.

"This nine-point plan will enable senior NHS managers to work with staff and unions to restart safely many of the services that had to shut up shop when the pandemic hit.

"Acting on the plan could prevent a second wave of infection."

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Over the coming weeks, important planned procedures will start to be scheduled with specialists prioritising those with the most urgent clinical need.

But, in line with measures currently in place to protect staff and patients during the pandemic, they will be required to isolate themselves for 14 days and be clear of any symptoms before being admitted.

Testing will also be increasingly offered to those waiting to be admitted to provide further certainty for patients and staff that they are Covid-free.

NHS national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: “Now that we are confident that we have passed the first peak of coronavirus, it is important that we bring back those services where we can, but only where that can be done safely.

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"The virus is still circulating and we don’t want to put our patients, the public or our staff at greater risk.

“So our message to any member of the public who might have been putting off seeing their GP about the treatment they might need is: the NHS is open and is working to deliver safe services, so please help us help you, and come forward for care when you need it.”