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Maternity service reconfigurations for intrapartum and postnatal midwifery staffing shortages: modelling of low-risk births in England

Grollman, C., Daniele, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-5666-9489, Brigante, L. , Knight, G. M., Latina, L., Morgan, A. S. & Downe, S. (2022). Maternity service reconfigurations for intrapartum and postnatal midwifery staffing shortages: modelling of low-risk births in England. BMJ Open, 12(9), article number e051747. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-051747


Introduction Choice of birth setting is important and it is valuable to know how reconfiguring available settings may affect midwifery staffing needs. COVID-19-related health system pressures have meant restriction of community births. We aimed to model the potential of service reconfigurations to offset midwifery staffing shortages.

Methods We adapted the Birthrate Plus method to develop a tool that models the effects on intrapartum and postnatal midwifery staffing requirements of changing service configurations for low-risk births. We tested our tool on two hypothetical model trusts with different baseline configurations of hospital and community low-risk birth services, representing those most common in England, and applied it to scenarios with midwifery staffing shortages of 15%, 25% and 35%. In scenarios with midwifery staffing shortages above 15%, we modelled restricting community births in line with professional guidance on COVID-19 service reconfiguration. For shortages of 15%, we modelled expanding community births per the target of the Maternity Transformation programme.

Results Expanding community births with 15% shortages required 0.0 and 0.1 whole-time equivalent more midwives in our respective trusts compared with baseline, representing 0% and 0.1% of overall staffing requirements net of shortages. Restricting home births with 25% shortages reduced midwifery staffing need by 0.1 midwives (–0.1% of staffing) and 0.3 midwives (–0.3%). Suspending community births with 35% shortages meant changes of –0.3 midwives (–0.3%) and –0.5 midwives (–0.5%) in the two trusts. Sensitivity analysis showed that our results were robust even under extreme assumptions.

Conclusion Our model found that reconfiguring maternity services in response to shortages has a negligible effect on intrapartum and postnatal midwifery staffing needs. Given this, with lower degrees of shortage, managers can consider increasing community birth options where there is demand. In situations of severe shortage, reconfiguration cannot recoup the shortage and managers must decide how to modify service arrangements.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re- use permitted under CC BY- NC. No commercial re- use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
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