Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Half of London's Maternity Units Are Facing Closure

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Half of London's Maternity Units Are Facing Closure

Article excerpt

Byline: Ross Lydall Health Editor

THE number of London hospitals with maternity units could be almost halved to concentrate specialist care on fewer larger sites.

It follows the deaths in childbirth of 73 women in three years. Health chiefs want midwives to have fewer pregnant women under their care and for consultant obstetricians to be available 24/7 to handle the rise in more complex births.

Experts say this is likely to lead to the closure of many of the 26 hospital maternity units across the capital London has had the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, though the number of deaths has fallen from 31 in 2010/11 to 23 in 2011/12 and 19 in the last financial year.

But as the growth in population is likely to see 135,000 births this year, NHS England's London region has imposed new standards for the care of pregnant women.

It wants all hospitals to have 24-hour consultant cover, for each midwife responsible for no more than 28 births and for one-to-one midwife care during "active" labour. …

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