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MIDWIVES are warning that NHS hospitals providing luxury rooms for new mums at up to £450 a night could create a two-tier system in the quality of care.
Women who want a private room after giving birth on the NHS, rather than receiving care on a ward, are being offered “amenity rooms” at prices like those of four- and five-star hotels.
Some rooms include extras such as slippers, toiletries and a stocked fridge, or offer private consultations.
According to the hospitals, women are told they will receive the usual NHS care given to those who opt for a ward.
Amenity rooms at the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford and at Oxford University Hospitals cost up to £450 a night. At the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London, en-suite amenity rooms cost £300 per night.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) expressed concern that midwives may feel the need to provide extra care to women who have shelled out for a room.
Director for midwifery at the RCM Louise Silverton said: “We know lack of postnatal beds is often a reason for temporary closures of services.
“This service must be an add-on and not affect the availability of beds.
“I would also stress that any money earned from such schemes should be reinvested directly into the maternity service of the trust and not lost and absorbed into other services.”
The Royal Surrey Hospital claims that income from the rooms is invested directly back into maternity care and that anyone paying could be asked to leave if the room is needed by someone with a greater medical need.
The Patients Association said the practice of charging hundreds of pounds for a room showed the NHS had an “ongoing scramble” for cash and said pursuing money in this way should not become a “routine part of how the NHS operates.”
The most recent Care Quality Commission review of 190 maternity units found 36 per cent required improvement, 2 per cent were inadequate, 57 per cent were good and 4 per cent were outstanding.
Last year’s National Maternity Review found that postnatal care was one area where women raised the most concerns and improvement was needed.
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