Midwife shortage sees Walsall Manor maternity unit close
The midwifery-led unit at Walsall Manor Hospital is to be shut for up to eight weeks due to staff shortages.
Women who were booked in to use the facility will instead be transferred to the hospital’s main delivery suite, from Monday.
The move has come on the back of a re-inspection by the Care Quality Commission which rated maternity services at the Manor ‘inadequate’ in January 2016.
On the back of that a birthing cap had already been imposed at the Moat Road site limiting deliveries to 4,200 a year from nearly 5,000.
The midwifery-led unit typically deals with ‘lower’ risk births and sees around 15 deliveries a month.
One expectant mother, who did not wish to be named, said: “It is concerning. From my previous experiences I chose to have my baby in that sort of environment and now that choice is being taken away.”
Manor bosses said they are hoping around a dozen new midwives will arrival in September. Rachel Overfield, director of nursing, said the decision to temporarily move births from the unit was taken following the CQC report.
“This is to ensure that we have sufficient midwives to provide safe care for all our patients during the next six to eight weeks,” she said.
“The women who use the midwifery-led unit are considered lower risk and we see around 15 deliveries there each month compared to several hundred each month at the Manor Hospital.
“There are typically a number of high risk women on the delivery suite – women who need extra care during labour - and we need to take action to ensure we maintain safe, high quality care for all mums and babies.
“Over the last year we have been successful in recruiting new midwives and are awaiting the arrival of 12 new midwives in September which will help boost staffing levels in the near future.”
“These decisions are never taken lightly, and are made by senior clinicians supported by the Trust’s leadership team.
She added: “We would like to apologise for any inconvenience this temporary transfer of activity may cause and can assure you that the safety of all of our patients is paramount.”
Mothers-to-be booked in to the MLU have been advised to call the hospital on 01922 721171 for more information.
The Care Quality Commission undertook a short-notice inspection in June and are expected to deliver their verdict on the current state of services in early Autumn.