Extended closure of rural maternity units is an excuse to close them permanently – it’s wrong

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust today announced that the rural maternity units at Ludlow, Oswestry and Bridgnorth are to remain closed for births indefinitely. This decision has been made ahead of a public consultation on the future of the MLUs. It is obvious that SaTH intends to close the three MLUs permanently. It claims that 98% of women are “choosing” to give birth elsewhere. Of course this is so. The rural MLUs are rarely open for births.

This has been a cynical exercise to shut the MLUs by stealth.

Tracey Huffer Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East says:

“I am appalled by this decision but it is not a surprise.

“Over the last few years, the maternity unit in Ludlow has been closed at short notice several times, as have those in Bridgnorth and Oswestry. That means that women anxious about giving birth would have been crazy to plan for a local delivery. In recent months, the rural midwifery-led maternity units have been closed altogether. That means that births at the MLUs have fallen to next to nothing.

“I am angry that the hospitals trust is now using the fall in rural births as an excuse to shut the MLUs indefinitely. This is before the long delayed consultation on the future of the maternity units has taken place. It is obvious that SaTH has decided the outcome of that consultation in advance. It wants to get rid of the MLUs altogether.

“Theresa May yesterday announced a big cash boost for the NHS. We must wait and see whether we will get any of this money in Shropshire. But the way things are going, none will be directed towards rural health services in the county because they will have all been shut down before any extra money gets here.”

SaTH press release

Temporary suspension of services at Bridgnorth, Oswestry and Ludlow MLUs to continue

19 June 2018

Inpatient services, including births, at Bridgnorth, Oswestry and Ludlow Midwife Led Units (MLUs) are to remain temporarily suspended in order to safely staff the units where most of our mothers are giving birth, as a period of focused engagement with service users begins.

The current suspension of births at the three MLUs will continue until the outcome of a period of engagement is known. This is to ensure the safe care of mums using Shropshire’s maternity services.

The suspension of inpatient services (births and postnatal care) will continue from 8am tomorrow (Wednesday 20 June). All three units will remain open between 8am and 8pm for antenatal and postnatal services.

Women booked to give birth at Bridgnorth, Oswestry and Ludlow MLUs who go into labour during this time will be offered a birth at either Shrewsbury or Wrekin MLU or the Consultant Led Unit at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford; or they may choose the option of a home birth. If any women due to give birth at Bridgnorth, Oswestry or Ludlow MLU require support during this time they will be able to access a Midwife. All women potentially affected by the suspensions are being contacted.

Sarah Jamieson, Head of Midwifery at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs the MLUs, said: “The circumstances which led to our decision to suspend some services from the 20 May remain unchanged. Unfortunately the issues which have been affecting our maternity service continue. With over 98% of our women giving birth away from our rural MLUs, we are having to deploy our midwives where our mothers are choosing, or are being assessed as needing, to be and ensure that our Consultant Led Unit and our larger Midwife Led Units are safely staffed.

“We are planning a period of focused engagement with our service users, during which time we will be seeking their views and feeding these back to the Trust Board. The time period for the engagement and details regarding how to get involved will be released shortly.

“I must again reiterate that decisions over staffing are made purely on the basis of safety. The safety of women and babies using our maternity services has been, and always will be, our number one priority.

“I would like to apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.”

2 thoughts on “Extended closure of rural maternity units is an excuse to close them permanently – it’s wrong

  1. Our MP when he was Health Minister told us he could not intervene due to conflict with his job so since losing his job and returning to the back benches what will the excuse be this time perhaps because he has no influence at all now….deafening silence rules.

  2. I’m afraid our MP has always voted the Party line regardless of consequence for his constituents. Your diplomacy is admirable Andy but Wrong doesn’t even start to cover it.

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