Update on the closure of Neighbourhood Midwives

Working together to ensure personal and safe maternity care

Following the announcement last week (24 January 2019) that Neighbourhood Midwives have had to make the difficult decision to close, local NHS providers and commissioners have been working closely to ensure that the women affected, and their families, continue to receive personal and safe maternity care in Waltham Forest. 

As partners (Whipps Cross Hospital, Homerton Hospital, Neighbourhood Midwives and NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group), we are committed to providing safe and effective continuity of care for local women. 

The focus of all partners’ efforts so far has been on supporting the safe transfer of care of all 129 women who were being cared for by Neighbourhood Midwives at the time Neighbourhood Midwives had to make the very difficult decision to close, with a particular focus on those due to give birth in the coming weeks. 

We have not decommissioned or withdrawn funding from Neighbourhood Midwives. We commissioned Neighbourhood Midwives to improve choice in maternity care in Waltham Forest and we share the disappointment of many that Neighbourhood Midwives had to take the very difficult decision to close. 

A full review will be taking place to understand the factors that contributed to the closure. It was not within the power of this CCG to restore or extend the services.

Dr Anwar Khan, Clinical Chair of NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group, said: 

"We are disappointed that Neighbourhood Midwives have decided to close. 

"As local GPs we have had lots of positive feedback about the work of the service. I am hopeful that the midwives currently working for Neighbourhood Midwives will continue to work in our community with local NHS organisations. 

"Our top priority is making sure mums expecting their baby in the next few weeks still have a range of choices open to them, including home births where this is their wish." 

Each woman’s primary point of contact for these discussions has continued to be their Neighbourhood Midwives midwife. 

We all recognise how important safe and effective maternity arrangements are to women and their families, and we are working together to do everything possible to ensure that these arrangements are in place for everyone.

Since Neighbourhood Midwives took the decision to close last week:

  • Neighbourhood Midwives have directly contacted and spoken with each of the women in their care
  • Teams have worked together across services to ensure that options continue to be available to local women, including home births, through the homebirth teams at Homerton and Whipps Cross hospitals
  • Teams have been on hand to respond promptly to any queries from women in the service.

If women currently in the Neighbourhood Midwives service continue to have questions about their care, they should call the number provided by Neighbourhood Midwives: 07584 416096. Out of hours there will be a recorded message detailing how to access the service.

Alongside the above arrangements, partners are working together to retain the skills and experience of the midwives currently working for Neighbourhood Midwives, in the local health system, where they would like to do so.

There have been many positive comments about Neighbourhood Midwives and all partners are committed to taking the learning from working with Neighbourhood Midwives to improve maternity care for women and their families.

Any further queries should be directed to wfccg.communications@nhs.net