Update on our home birth service and Mary Stanley Birthing Unit (Bridgwater Hospital)

6 March 2023

Over the last few months, we have been experiencing a significant shortage of midwives in Somerset. We have therefore had to make the difficult, but necessary, decision to temporarily suspend our home birth service and the birthing suite at the Mary Stanley Birthing Unit at Bridgwater Hospital for three months. All other maternity appointments at the Mary Stanley Unit will continue as normal.

We have needed to take this decision to ensure that we can continue to provide a safe maternity service by consolidating our team of midwives to maintain antenatal care in the community and provide midwifery cover for the Labour ward and Bracken Birthing Centre at Musgrove Park Hospital. We’ve already contacted the small number of families affected and our midwives have talked through the options with them individually. We’re keeping the decision under regular review with a view to reinstating the services as soon as we are able to.

We know this will be disappointing for those who were planning a home birth and we are sorry that this isn’t possible at this time. Our team of midwives and maternity support workers will continue to provide families with the same level of care and support at the hospital.

About our maternity services

Maternity services are provided in a number of locations, including our main Musgrove Park Hospital maternity unit, the Mary Stanley midwifery-led birthing unit at Bridgwater Community Hospital, and in your own home. We provide care for over 3,200 births per year.

Our maternity team is made up of various clinicians including midwives, obstetricians, maternity support workers, trainee nursing assistants, paediatricians and anaesthetists. We also work closely with a range of other healthcare providers including GPs and health visitors.

We offer a friendly, supportive and safe service for women and families throughout Somerset.

As you know every part of the NHS is currently under extreme and sustained pressure. We would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that, your Maternity Services are open for business and here to support you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our priority is always to support you to have a safe and positive pregnancy and birth experience. To do this we need to ensure you have all the information you need to make informed decisions about your care.

We know that information about health options during your pregnancy and birth are essential to you when making choices to ensure you remain well so we are strongly advising you to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.

There are increased risks to you, your baby, and your health, if you should get COVID whilst pregnant especially if you are not vaccinated.

Vaccination is recommended at any stage of pregnancy so please do not delay. You can book your vaccination online or by calling 119. If you wish to talk to anyone, please contact your community midwife.

We would like to reassure you that there are no planned changes to visiting or to partners support through your maternity journey.

As you may know, the ambulance service is also facing extremely high demand at the moment and because of this it is possible that the response times in the community will be longer than usual. If you choose to give birth at home or in our freestanding midwifery birth centre, there may be a chance of a delay if you require ambulance transfer to hospital in labour or if you call an ambulance during your pregnancy. It is important you are aware this could happen. Your midwife will also talk to you about this.

If you become unwell or have any concerns about your heath, including your baby’s movements, we advise you to call your local hospital as soon as possible for advice. Please do not wait until the situation becomes serious, we want to be able to see you early and ensure you get the care and support you need.


Taunton: 01823 343985

Yeovil: 01935 384350

These support lines are 24 hours a day 7 days a week

Your Community Midwife will discuss your pregnancy and birth plans with you during your appointments. The senior management team is also available, and if you would like to discuss anything further or have any concerns, please use any of the contacts below.

Interim Director of Midwifery for Somerset– sallyann.king@somersetft.nhs.uk

Head of Midwifery Taunton – Nicola.van-Eerde@somersetft.nhs.uk

Midwifery Matron Yeovil – Alison.Dennett@ydh.nhs.uk

MVP Chair – SomersetMVP@healthwatchsomerset.co.uk

Maternity visiting arrangements

Antenatal (before birth)

  • Scans/hospital appointments while pregnant – one support person for all appointments (children cannot attend these medical appointments)
  • One person can stay with you while on the Antenatal (before birth) ward.
  • Between 2pm-8pm, you can have three people, adults or (yours/your partners) children, with you at your bedside.

Labour Ward/Birth Centres

  • During your labour and birth, you can have two birth partners with you.

Postnatal (after birth)

  • Your partner will be able to stay overnight for the first night following the birth of your baby on the postnatal ward, partners will be asked to sign and follow a contract of expectations whilst on the ward
  • Between 2pm-8pm, you can have three people, adults or (yours/your partners) children, with you at your bedside.

Neonatal care

  • Parents of babies in our Neonatal/Special Care departments can be with their baby 24 hours a day.

If you would like to share feedback regarding your maternity care, please contact Somerset Maternity Voices Partnership: somersetmvp@healthwatchsomerset.co.uk

All visitors must be well and have no symptoms of COVID-19.

While visiting, please wear a face mask and use the hand sanitiser provided.

Please note that all members of the public – including pregnant women – are asked to wear a hospital-provided, single-use mask when entering healthcare settings. These are available at all entrances to our hospitals and units – please use the hand gel provided before taking a mask.