Ensuring as many women as possible can give birth in Hartlepool's hospital
Health chiefs have issued a warning over how issues such as obesity can lead to pregnant women having ‘high risk’ births.
It comes after North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust chiefs said from April women would be able to book into the midwife-led maternity unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool to give birth.
Women classified to have potentially ‘high risk’ births would have to go elsewhere to give birth for further medical support, and health bosses stated many women are classified this way due to issues such as obesity.
Julie Parkes, from the foundation trust, told the council Audit and Governance Committee they need to work together to tackle health issues in the area, which would lead to more women being able to give birth in Hartlepool.
She said: “A lot of those high risk ladies are in relation to obesity or being morbidly obese. Out of those figures roughly it means 263 ladies fall into that category.
“I think it’s really important that if we’re going to make sure we can enable ladies to give birth in Hartlepool, there is a real issue that we need to tackle together about the health of young women in the locality.
“It’s about looking at how can we reduce those figures and how can we increase the number of low-risk ladies in Hartlepool, who would then be eligible to give birth in the birthing unit.”
It was estimated based on last year’s figures there were 552 pregnant women in the area classed as ‘high risk’ with 263 falling into the category of being ‘obese or morbidly obese’.
Currently there are 60 women deemed by the trust as being ‘low risk’ and who would be able to give birth in the Hartlepool unit when it’s open.
Craig Blundred, deputy director of public health for the council, noted the number of women facing obesity is ‘almost double’ what was anticipated.
He also stated many adults in Hartlepool in general face problems with being overweight or obese.
He said: “Looking at the estimates, particularity for obesity, we would have anticipated around 148 mothers a year on the figures, so when we look at the actual number it’s nearly double that which is quite concerning.”
He also pointed out several other factors which can make expectant mothers ‘high risk’ such as smoking, which accounted for 167 women last year, and dependency on alcohol, which are issues they are looking to tackle.
He said: “We know smoking rates are coming down but it’s still something we need to tackle as well.
“The other area to highlight is dependent drinkers, which is a lot smaller number. The issues with alcohol and dangers to mothers is a worrying concern.
“There are some key factors that we still need to address in the whole process to bring some of those risk factors down.”