Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust (CP 39)


  Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital is part of Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust. Queen Charlotte's has been in existence since 1739, making it the oldest maternity hospital in the country. Over time the hospital has moved several times, most recently from Goldhawk Road to the Hammersmith Hospital site. It now occupies a purpose-built hospital which is only five years old, which is one of the most modern in the UK and specially designed to provide the best possible accommodation for mothers and babies. In addition, it has a Birthing Centre run exclusively by midwives, where women with uncomplicated pregnancies can choose to give birth.

  It is one of the UK's leading maternity hospitals providing a full range of services for pregnant women and new born babies. It is a tertiary centre of excellence for high risk pregnancies and births. It has a pioneering midwifery unit and a full complement of staff—there are no vacancies. In partnership with Imperial College it is also one of the UK's leading research centres into conception, pregnancy, birth and neonatology. The hospital contains:

    —    Maternity and gynaecology outpatient areas.

    —    Early pregnancy assessment unit.

    —    Ultrasound suite.

    —    Centre for Fetal Care.

    —    Birth Centre.

    —    Large labour ward with individual birth rooms and operating theatres.

    —    44 antenatal/postnatal beds.

    —    Eight private patient beds.

    —    40 cot Neonatal Unit.

    —    33 inpatient gynaecological beds, including day care area.

    —    Paediatric ambulatory care unit.


  The Jentle Midwifery scheme was established in 2004 at Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital to provide an additional service to women who request one-to-one midwife support, from the same named midwife throughout their pregnancy.

  The hospital already provides a free one-to-one midwifery service for mothers where there is a clinical necessity—such as difficult social-economic circumstances or those for whom there is an expectation of a difficult birth. The Jentle Scheme is unlike a typical private system; the scheme directly enhances what the NHS at Queen Charlotte's offers—a highly professional and safe service.

  Expectant mothers participating in the scheme receive exactly the same medical interventions as other NHS mothers, including scans and other tests. The main difference that the scheme offers mothers-to-be is one-to-one care from a dedicated midwife, available 24 hours per day, throughout the pregnancy. There is also more flexibility over where and when ante-natal support can be offered.

  Mothers not on the scheme have access to the same advice, scans, ante-natal information, birthing experience, equipment, specialist back-up as mothers who have paid for the scheme, except that it is not with the same midwife guaranteed at all times.

  The scheme costs £4,000 and has generated over £160,000 of income which is reinvested in the trust's NHS maternity services. 74 women have so far participated in the scheme and 51 babies have been delivered. The scheme is covered by the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts for which the Trust has level 2.

Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust

February 2006

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