Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lack of Births Sees Maternity Unit Shut; Fears Skills of Staff Will Be Put at Risk

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lack of Births Sees Maternity Unit Shut; Fears Skills of Staff Will Be Put at Risk

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae

AMATERNITY unit in the North East has been closed due to a decline in the number of births at the midwifery-led service.

Health bosses yesterday announced that they were temporarily shutting the unit at Berwick Infirmary from today following a significant reduction in births.

The number of babies born at the Northumberland hospital fell from 23 in 2010-2011 to just 13 in 2011-2012, raising fears that midwives are unable to maintain their birthing skills.

It is not yet known how long the unit will be closed for and discussions are ongoing into the long-term future of the service. No members of staff will lose their job and all antenatal and postnatal maternity services, as well as consultant-led high-risk clinics, will continue at the hospital.

Dave Evans, medical director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: "We pride ourselves on providing some of the best quality maternity services in England and that is testament to the hard work and commitment of all our midwives.

"The continuing decline in births at Berwick, however, has meant we've had to take this difficult decision.

"With such a low volume of births, our midwives are simply not getting enough opportunities to regularly practice their essential birthing skills which are paramount in being able to deliver high-quality, safe and effective midwifery care.

"We are now looking into the long-term future of the midwifery-led unit in Berwick working together with our commissioners and will, of course, engage with the public as we work with partners to reach a solution.

"I wholeheartedly appreciate this will be disappointing for those families who had planned to give birth in Berwick in the near future and for those who have experienced excellent care in the past, but the reduced volume in births has given us a real cause for concern which we must act upon. …

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