The Perfect Storm in Maternity Care?
It was reported today by the BBC that, in reply to their Freedom of Information Act requests, of the 62 trusts that replied , 51% said they had temporarily closed units during 2013, with the most common reason for closures being a lack of staff or beds. Some closed for a few hours, others for more than 48 hours until pressures had eased.
Of those 62 trusts, it is reported that 12% said they had closed their units 10 times or more during the year.
The Health minister, Dr Dan Poulter, commented “There will always be very limited occasions when a maternity unit cannot safely accept more women into their care and may need to close temporarily.
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust closed the most times, with 97 closures across two hospitals – the Queen’s Medical Centre 48 times and Nottingham City Hospital on 49 occasions.
Sandra Patton, Head of Medical Injury at Ashtons Legal, who specialises in birth injury cases, observes:
‘We know there are a number of serious problems that are creating the perfect storm. There is the well-recognised shortage of midwives, cuts in NHS funding, a high birth rate and more complex deliveries as a result of the increase in obesity and multiple births. To get to the point where a unit is unable to provide safe care and has to close signifies a crisis and needs urgently and aggressively tackling by government.’
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