A £1.6 million maternity unit at New Cross Hospital which opened less than a year ago has been closed until the end of the month because of a lack of staff, it emerged today.
Mothers-to-be who wanted to give birth at the state-of-the art unit at the Wednesfield site will instead have to use the hospital’s older delivery suite or have a home birth.
The unit, which opened last October, was closed earlier this week and bosses say they have decided to keep it shut until between 10 and 15 midwives being recruited are able to start work.
Hospital chiefs say an influx of high-risk births have taken resources away from the midwife-led unit.
Nigel Pye, spokesman for the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said anyone using the midwife-led unit would be classed as low risk so would still be suitable to use the main delivery suite.
He added: “Midwives are currently being recruited for the midwife-led unit. They have been appointed but the process of due diligence is currently being carried out including checking references, which will take a couple of weeks, so it will remain closed until the end of September.
“Anyone booked in to give birth up to the end of September has two options, in liaison with their community midwife.
“They can give birth in the delivery suite or opt for a home birth. This decision has been made with the best interests of the mothers-to-be and their partners in mind, and safety is paramount.”
He said the exact number of midwives that would be taken on could not be confirmed until after the recruitment process.
The midwife-led unit boasts extra facilities to the delivery suite, with all five birthing rooms having en-suite bathrooms, music centres and televisions and the latest birthing equipment.
It aims to have a more relaxed atmosphere.
It comes after plans were unveiled for New Cross to take over the running of Cannock Hospital in moves which would see the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust dissolved.