Concerns over downgrading of maternity unit

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Border Counties)

Oswestry’s midwife-led unit (MLU) could be converted to an on-call service overnight.

Health bosses on the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital (SATH) NHS Trust board last week looked at converting the MLU – along with the other rural units in Bridgnorth and Ludlow – into birthing centres in a bid to save £95,000 before April 1.

Sarah Jamieson, head of midwifery at SATH, said the change would retain the full range of services and be open during the day, but would mean the unit would close overnight.

She said: “Mums-to-be requiring care would meet their midwife at the unit and would then be supported through labour and with their immediate postnatal care before being discharged home.

“This is similar to the model used successfully in Powys.

“The service has seen a shift in the choices women are making in relation to where they give birth, and we must now look at new ways of providing their care to continue to provide a full range of options.

“I am keen to explore with my senior team how we can continue to provide midwifery-led care in all care settings, ensuring we maintain choice for our women and their families while at the same time providing a safe and equitable service.”

The Oswestry unit is based at the Orthopaedic Hospital and provides antenatal, birth and postnatal care. However, on two occasions – 2003 and 2007 – it was closed and campaigns were mounted to see the unit reopen.

A report three years ago costing £54,000 revealed on average three babies were born per day at the county’s five MLUs, leading to a health chief warning the three rural units could be lost if not promoted more successfully.

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