Couple threaten legal action to ensure homebirth service; hospital engages private midwives for homebirth service


Bosses at Whipps Cross University Hospital have decided to reinstate its home births service after a couple threatened legal action.

The cash-strapped hospital in Leytonstone announced earlier this month that it would be impossible to provide midwives to households from December 18 for up to six weeks due to staff shortages.

But now ... extra funding has been made available to pay for an independent midwife service for those who were hit by the sudden suspension.

Adam and Michelle Boult ... were planning to have a home birth in January and were so outraged by the hospital’s plan to stop the service they called in a barrister, who argued the hospital had a legal responsibility to support them.

Mr Boult, a 32-year-old journalist, said: “While they would probably deny it, to get them to agree to this has taken an extraordinary amount of pressure.

“We were lucky enough to have a very helpful barrister and solicitor who have pushed for the Trust to reconsider its stance, culminating in Whipps Cross receiving a pre-action letter suggesting a judicial review”.

... In a joint statement, Whipps Cross and ONEL said: "[We] are committed to offering all women in the local area the best possible choice of how and where they give birth.

"We have been working together to find a way to offer a home birth service during the next four weeks. Safety is our priority, and we did have some concerns about staffing levels over this period.

"However, by working together, the hospital and NHS ONEL are now able to bring in independent midwives for this limited period, until the hospital’s Home Birth Service team is in place.

"This means those women who asked for a home birth in the next four weeks can have one. We have always been committed to developing the Home Birth Service and to ensuring we provide high quality, safe and consistent services to all women."

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