Limit on births at Walsall Manor Hospital to stay until 2018
A birthing cap limiting the number of babies born at Walsall Manor Hospital is set to be in place until 2018.
The move, which came into action last March, meant hundreds of expectant mothers registering with GPs in Willenhall, as well as parts of Staffordshire and Sandwell, were sent elsewhere to have their baby delivered.
It capped the births at the Manor to 4,200 for this year when in the region of 4,900 were delivered in the previous 12 months.
Many, including Walsall North MP David Winnick, expected the situation to be reverted in April following a recruitment drive for midwives but now hospital bosses have indicated the measure will be in place for the rest of 2017.
A joint statement issued on behalf of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "The decision to limit the number of births at Walsall Manor Hospital was taken as a short to medium term measure to allow improvements to the estate to be made and for the appointment of additional midwives.
"No time limit was placed on this temporary measure but we have been regularly reviewing it as part of our quality, safety and patient experience monitoring within maternity services and will continue to do so. Our current expectation is that these arrangements will remain in place for a further year."
Last August the trust signed off on a £5.6 million investment for a new second maternity theatre to provide sufficient capacity for births, as well as an expansion of the neonatal unit from 15 cots to 20.
It is expected construction work could start next month and last 12 months, bringing capacity up to 4,900 deliveries a year.
The move came after the number of births approached close to 5,000 in 2015 meaning on average 18-19 neonatal cots were needed per day.
The trust and CCG statement added: "The reduction in the number of births and increase in midwives at the Manor has meant that staff can give each mother and baby more support.
"This has had a positive impact as evidenced by the encouraging feedback we have had from mothers who have given birth there in recent months."