Ludlow maternity unit crisis to be resolved in next ten days says health chief

On Tuesday, Ludlow councillors wrote to the NHS executives that run services at the Ludlow Community Hospital site. We have received a detailed response from Simon Wright, who runs the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH). SaTH runs midwifery-led services in the county. We have also heard from Jan Ditheridge, chief executive of Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (ShropCom). This is the trust that runs other services on the hospital site, including the closed Stretton Ward.

Here is what Jan and Simon told us.

Jan Ditheridge

Chief executive of Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (ShropCom).

Councillors. Stretton Ward was fully refurbished before being closed in July 2015. Why were maternity services not transferred to this unused but fully functional ward?

Jan Ditheridge. I will leave Simon [Wright] to share the detail of the urgent closure as it is in his area of responsibility, as you know. However, to pick up your point regarding Stretton Ward, once we were made aware of the situation we made the ward available for use. We are working with our Acute partners to facilitate the move should it be required.

Simon Wright

Chief executive of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH).

Councillors. Why, given the long term dilapidation of the former workhouse building, it was closed at such short notice?

Simon Wright. The situation arose when our head of midwifery undertook a routine visit to the unit and identified some mould which she wanted checking for spores and a severe crack in the wall which on inspection appeared on the external brickwork as well. The risk to mums and babies meant we needed to act to safeguard the staff and patients and immediately closed the unit pending a detailed health and safety inspection, visit from a structural engineer and our infection control team. Sadly, this situation has been building for some time as the building we rent is in a very poor state and the upkeep has been a worry for a number of months.

Councillors. Stretton Ward was fully refurbished before being closed in July 2015. Why were maternity services not transferred to this unused but fully functional ward?

Simon Wright. We immediately shared this position [the maternity closure] with all of the partners and started work in the main hospital to see if we could convert the closed ward into a suitable space for the Ante Natal service initially. We are awaiting the final reports but to avoid any delay I have asked that we explore the changes needed to convert the ward space into a fully functional MLU [Midwife Led Unit] and am awaiting this input and costing detail.

Councillors. Our final question concerns ante and post-natal care for mothers and their babies. Is this service continuing at Ludlow Community Hospital despite the current loss of the midwifery-led unit?

Simon Wright. Our intention is to find a local solution and we will continue to work hard at securing this in the next week to 10 days. We have written to all of the mums and reorganised clinics and birthing options to try and minimise the impact whilst we explore what can be done.

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