Another suspension of services at Ludlow & Oswestry MLUs – we must fight

Yet again, “staff sickness” has closed Ludlow and Oswestry maternity units. The level of staff sickness in our rural maternity units is extraordinary. Almost week in, week out we see a closure due to “staff sickness”. This is not staff sickness. It is understaffing and underfunding. It is a strategy that is set to deprive rural areas from vital maternity services.

It looks like rural maternity units won’t last long. Why on earth would a mother book into units that could be closed at a minute’s notice? Mothers won’t go there because they don’t want uncertainly at the most important time in their lives. Then Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) will then declare them to be unnecessary. We must fight this.

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How do you maintain choice for mothers by closing maternity units?

Today, the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) issued a press release about the plan to convert midwifery-led maternity units (MLUs) in Ludlow, Oswestry and Bridgnorth to on-call services. This means that mums-to-be must ring to arrange for a midwife to come to unlock the maternity unit before care can be provided for the mother and child. This could possibly work if births came according to a prearranged schedule but that’s not the way that pregnancies run. SaTH says this will “maintain choice for mums-to-be”. I can’t see that being the case.

If you don’t use a health facility, it will be closed. The mums-to-be I have spoken to are clear that they need certainty. They fear they will call a midwife when in labour and none will be available outside Telford. They need a clear pathway at an uncertain time of life. This panic plan will not deliver that. What it will deliver a few months from now is the permanent closure of rural midwifery units.

The SaTH press release is reproduced in full below.

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Tracey Huffer fears we will lose our midwifery-led maternity units

Tracey Huffer, Councillor for Ludlow East and a practising nurse, has issued a statement on the news yesterday that the midwifery-led maternity units (MLUs) will be converted to an on-call system. She said:

“The Trust that runs Shropshire’s main hospitals has in recent discussions put forward proposal to replace all three midwifery-led maternity units (MLUs) in Ludlow, Oswestry and Bridgnorth with an on-call system. This effectively means a woman in labour will have to telephone through to request a midwife to meet them and unlock the doors to the unit! This will possibly be 24hrs a day, 7 days a week.

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Is this the end for Ludlow Maternity Unit & Community Hospital? I fear so

BBC Radio Shropshire has just reported the following.

“The trust which runs Shropshire’s main hospitals is proposing to shut its midwife-led maternity units around the county and replace them with a system of on-call midwives who will come out if needed. The Shrewsbury and Hospital NHS Trust insists it is not pre-empting the outcome of a review into the future of the services. But it says wants to avoid the recent situation where the units have been closed at short-notice because of sickness.”

I fear this is the end for the three rural maternity units in Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Oswestry.

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