MORE THAN a quarter of mums choosing to have babies at Huddersfield’s birth centre had to be transferred during labour, figures show.
A report charting the success of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary’s new midwife-led unit during its first six months revealed 27% of women had to be moved to Calderdale Royal Hospital because of complications.
Of the 381 women who arrived at the centre between August 2008 and January 2009, 108 were transferred by ambulance.
The figures were presented at a board meeting of Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.
It came after a massive revamp of children’s and women’s services last year which saw consultant-led maternity care centralised at Calderdale Royal, leaving a stand-alone birth centre in Huddersfield led by midwives.
Two thirds of women were transferred during the first stage of labour.
Babies in distress, long labours, abnormal heart rates and high blood pressure were among the complications suffered.
But consultant midwife, Helen Shallow, said the number of transfers was reducing, with only 19% being moved in February 2009.
She said: “We feel all our transfers have been timely and appropriate. But over time we are seeing a fall in the transfer rate.
“Not all our women are transferred on a blue light.
“We are constantly assessing the situation and use our skills to anticipate things. We don’t wait until something emerges. If things are not tickety boo, we move.”
The birth centre opened in March 2008 and ran alongside a full consultant-led maternity service before going it alone in August. More than 560 babies have now been born there.
Martin De Bono, director of children’s and women’s services, said the changes had been a success.
He said: “We are reassured that the service model is the best one. We have not had any transfer-related incidents and are constantly auditing our transfers.
“Many of them are of a low risk level, such as the first sign of meconium or issues like that.
“But do you sacrifice a high transfer rate or loosen the risk assessment? For me, the satisfaction is that there have not been any transfer problems.”