Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Staffing Problems Close Special Baby Unit

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Staffing Problems Close Special Baby Unit

Article excerpt

Byline: Sonia Sharma Reporter

SOUTH Tyneside District Hospital's special care baby unit (SCBU) has closed due to a staffing crisis.

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust said there was a shortage of specialist qualified staff and the decision to suspend the unit was made to ensure the safety and wellbeing of newborn babies who need special care.

The unit will remain suspended until New Year when staffing will again be reviewed.

Expecting parents classed as 'high risk' who were due to attend the unit will be contacted and alternative arrangements made, while other parents will be referred to the maternity unit.

The Trust said despite ongoing efforts to maintain safe staffing levels, critical rota gaps have proved difficult to fill which have left the service increasingly fragile.

The temporary suspension of services will take place with immediate effect, with a review of the position in January.

Staff within the unit, who have been working "heroic amounts of additional hours to keep services running safely", are aware of the decision and will be redeployed into maternity services to support care to mums and babies in the hospital.

Due to the suspension of SCBU during December, the hospital's maternity unit will only be able to accommodate low-risk deliveries and the Trust will be working with women affected to ensure alternative arrangements are made.

The Trust is also in talks with the regional neonatal network, neighbouring special care baby units, maternity services and the North East Ambulance Service to discuss the impact of these measures.

Dr Shahid Wahid, medical director at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The safety and wellbeing of women and newborn babies in our care must always come first and we have taken this very difficult decision in the very best interests of patient care.

"There are many vital quality and safety standards that we simply must comply with and the ongoing pressures on our workforce have reached a critical tipping point this week. …

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