What’s happening to The Rosie’s home birth service?

The Rosie Hospital signpost

Women in our area are being discouraged from having a home birth due to staff shortages at the Rosie Maternity Hospital.

A pilot scheme began a month ago where the community midwives are required to work in the delivery unit and birth centre instead of being available in the community for home births.

Ellie Crowe booked a home birth after caesarean (HBAC), she said:

“It wasn’t until I was 34 weeks pregnant that they mentioned that they might not be able to send a midwife due to staffing issues. I was crestfallen. I left the appointment in tears and spent the next few days not sleeping very well and in an anxious state. I made an appointment with the Consultant Midwife. After the meeting, my agreed home birth plan was issued and disseminated. However, I later received a legal letter which again cast doubt over whether a midwife would attend. I was so close to my due date I chose to ignore it.”

Ellie’s baby boy was born safely at home in early November 2015 with two community midwives in attendance.

Women planning a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) already have limited birth place choice of delivery unit or home birth; officially* they are not allowed in the Rosie Birth Centre.

Compromising the home birth service in this way limits choice for ALL high risk women who aren’t automatically allowed access to the Rosie Birth Centre.

Cambridge Maternity Services Liaison Committee (MLSC) announced on 16th November that The Rosie board had agreed to employ 9 whole time equivalent midwives, together with 6 whole time equivalent band 3 support workers.

This is a positive step forward but we do not know how long the pilot scheme will continue or when the community midwives, with their expertise in home birth, will return to the community.

UPDATED: Home birth service and high risk women requesting midwife-led births: a letter from the CEO of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

If you have been put off homebirth due to staffing difficulties at The Rosie or have had problems booking a home birth please get in touch cambridgevbacfriends@gmail.com

If you would like to connect with other local women planning birth after caesarean, join our private online support group, you can read more about it on support page.

* However, it is possible to have a VBAC in the Rosie Birth Centre, we know of eight women who have. Read Kirsty’s birth story and check out the Rosie’s care pathway for women requesting a VBAC outside the delivery unit on the Rosie Hospital VBAC data page.


5 thoughts on “What’s happening to The Rosie’s home birth service?

  1. This article is somewhat misleading – whilst there are undoubtedly staffing issues that need to be addressed the actual home birth service is ongoing – rather than being on call at home the community midwife is on the unit (8pm – 8am) and sent from there to any home births that occur during the shift and a second midwife attends from the unit when required. During the day midwives will attend home births from their community areas based on whoever is available at the time which has not changed.

    There is and has always been a risk that ladies planning a home birth would be asked to Come in to the unit if workload did not allow community midwife attendance – for example if midwives were already attending another birth at home they could not leave there to attend a second client. At present this would be if all midwives in the unit (including the community midwife) were giving 1:1 Care so could not be released to attend ( as this would leave a mother without a midwife in the hospital setting)

    All community midwives support and believe in home birth and want women to have that choice, it is not in any way discouraged but women have a right to know the realities of the service pressures that are unlikely to affect them but could occur. Similarly, all women should be made aware that (in a planned hospital birth ) if their chosen unit is closed, they will be found another open unit to attend for care. It puts all involved mothers and babies at higher risk if patients attend a unit against advice when there is insufficient staffing and/or bed capacity.

    Midwives only ever aim to give the safest care to women and babies. HBAC does change service need somewhat as it is advised that 2 midwives attend in active labour until delivery as opposed to 1 midwife until delivery is close when a second would be called, impacting on the amount of time 2 midwives are away from other areas of the service (community visits/clinics or the hospital)

    As ever, more funding from the government is required to ensure staffing is optimum to support all services in our maternity hospitals. The last thing anyone wants to see is a suspended home birth service.


    1. Thank you for commenting ANON.

      We have taken care to write with truth and accuracy; women are being discouraged from home birth and legal letters have been sent out. If this has stopped The Rosie needs to make a statement and restore confidence in the home birth service.

      We are concerned about how messages of “we may not have a midwife on the day” compromise the service (not everyone is like Ellie, many would worry and change their plans) and how these messages affect high risk women who are also told “not allowed” in the RBC.

      It is right that women are being told about the realities of an overstretched service but does that mean we should just accept it?


  2. It’s interesting that you use the word ‘misleading’, Anon. I’m not quite understanding how the real, lived experiences of service users could be anything other than their truth? The facts of how the service is being provided are not in dispute here. What is, however, is the fact that service pressures are causing fear, disappointment and a loss of faith in the service. Abandoning plans to birth at home is a traumatic prospect for many women and I am proud to see the mothers of Cambridge standing up and fighting for improved staffing and a commitment from Addenbrookes that the homebirth service is not a luxury extra but an integral part of maternity services snd a basic human right.
    Their fight is not a personal attack on the wonderful midwives of the Rosie, but with commissioners, management and the Government who appear to believe that the care woman deserve can be achieved on the goodwill of overworked staff. I think we all agree that is not a situation that can be allowed to continue.


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