Oswestry’s maternity unit has been forced to close overnight because of a lack of staff.

The midwife-led unit based at the Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen was shut overnight last Thursday between 8pm and 8am.

Elsewhere in the county, the centres at Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury had to close from Christmas Day into Boxing Day with staff sent to Telford.

Leader of the ‘Save Oswestry Maternity Unit’ campaign group, Liz Grayston, said it was of real concern.

“They were short-staffed in Telford so they had to send the Oswestry midwives over there,” she said. “This is really uncomfortable given the bigger picture that it could well be downgraded to a birthing unit.

“I hope they don’t look at this and think that Oswestry unit is not being utilised enough and therefore close it – because it is. It’s not just people giving birth there either, lots of mothers are transferred back to Oswestry for postnatal care.”

Health bosses were expected to sign off plans last week to make it an on-call service at night starting in April, but the plans have been stalled.

“It is a result that the button has been paused but we can’t become complacent,” she added. “I’m meeting with the healthcare watchdog soon to find out where to go next with this.

“They will not close it without a fight.”

The mother-of-four launched a petition last month which has since been signed more than 1,300 times. To sign it visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/175669

n Meanwhile, health campaigner Gill George, who leads ‘Shropshire Defend Our NHS’ has questioned a response from Simon Wright, chief executive of the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust after parents wrote to him in defence of the unit, plus those in Ludlow and Bridgnorth, which campaigners still fear could close despite assurances on the contrary.

She said: “The threats are 100 per cent still there, and we’ll be needing to go on the offensive next year with a well-informed campaign.”