4 January 2021

Update to maternity services across Sussex

We are very sorry, but due to the current unprecedented situation with an increase in cases of Covid-19 across Sussex, immediate changes are being made to maternity services to ensure that all births can take place as safely as possible.

Our local ambulance service is under significant pressure. Whilst they are prioritising urgent 999 calls, including emergency pregnancy issues, the ambulance service will be stretched and response times may be delayed.

This includes attending home addresses for complications that can arise during home births, and attending for complications that can arise at stand-alone midwife led units where women may need to be transferred to another maternity unit. This means that giving birth in both of these venues (home births and stand-alone midwife-led units) presents a higher degree of risk.

The safety of births is our priority, so across Sussex the decision has been made to suspend planned homebirths and births at stand-alone midwife led units at this time – this includes home births in East Sussex and our Midwife-led unit at Eastbourne DGH. Instead births will take place in our maternity unit at Conquest Hospital, Hastings.

Our teams are working hard to ensure that our maternity services at Conquest Hospital are as accommodating as possible and we want to make sure that any birth is as close as possible to the experience expected.

All of our midwives are skilled and experienced in natural birth provision and Conquest Hospital offers the space and staff to readily support the number of births we expect and will mean that we can maintain the ethos of midwife-led care that is so important to East Sussex families.

The maternity unit has its own dedicated entrance which means that women do not need to access the unit through the main hospital.

At Conquest hospital we are also:

  • Reserving and extending designated rooms for midwife led care
  • Allocating the EMU and home-birth midwives to provide midwife-led care on the unit as much as possible
  • Continuing and promoting the use of our water-birth facilities as long as it is safe to do so

We remain fully committed to providing a full range of birth experiences for mothers in East Sussex and will re-open the Eastbourne Maternity Unit and our home birth facilities as soon as it is safe to do so.