PREGNANT women can now attend midwife led antenatal clinics at Portadown Health Centre rather than having to go to Craigavon Area Hospital.
The move is part of a plan across the southern health trust to move some services out of hospitals and into the community.
The clinics, which began recently in the health centre, are now open two days a week.
Midwife led clinics for lower risk mothers have been established in community venues across the area including Banbridge Polyclinic, Armagh Community Hospital, South Tyrone Hospital, Crossmaglen Health Centre and Kilkeel Primary Care Centre.
Anne McVey, southern trust assistant director of acute services, integrated maternity and women’s health, said, “Unless there’s a problem with your pregnancy, most of your antenatal care will probably not take place at the hospital. There is no reason why many women need to attend busy hospital-based antenatal clinics as often their care is more appropriately delivered by midwives in the community.
“There will, of course, still be specialised hospital care for those women who need it.”
Sadie Porter, one of the midwives working at the clinics in Portadown Health Centre, said the new venue has been welcomed by the women attending.
Mum-to-be Candace Davison, from Portadown, said, “I was a bit surprised when I first found out that I didn’t have to attend hospital for my appointment but I soon got used to the idea. It is more convenient to come here than hospital and it is a more relaxed environment in the health centre.”
Mrs McVey added, “In moving antenatal clinics out of hospitals we are following the Strategy for Maternity Care in Northern Ireland as well as the Transforming Your Care/Compton report recommendations. The strategy refers to recent surveys indicating negative experiences of some women during their pregnancy caused by travel to hospital and long waits at hospital clinics.
“By providing more community based services for those women suitable for midwifery led care, we hope to reduce waits and improve services for those who do need to come to hospital. It’s about delivering a flexible service suited to the right women, in the right time, and in the right place. As a result we hope to improve the experience for all pregnant women.”