Monday, 24 September 2012

Maternity unit closed 14 times after Solihull axe

THE under-pressure maternity unit at Heartlands Hospital closed 14 times this year after services were axed at Solihull Hospital, NHS figures show.

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Hospital bosses admitted this means women are being sent to other hospitals “on an ad-hoc basis if a bed is not available”.

Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) bosses have pledged to expand the Bordesley Green hospital because of pressure on beds.

Maternity doctors were axed from Solihull in July last year, meaning only low-risk births can take place there.

Heartlands is the nearest other unit – but was built for 3,000 births a year. It now gets 6,800.

Most Solihull women, 1,889, gave birth at Heartlands in the 12 months from April 2011.

Some 369 gave birth at Solihull while 205 gave birth at home.

A trust report says: “Due to demands on HEFT’s maternity capacity and the complex deliveries, the unit has recorded 14 closures so far in 2012.

“However, the issue remains that the overall maternity capacity is currently limited across the West Midlands.”

It said: “Rising birth rates and closure of the obstetric unit at Solihull have impacted on capacity at the Birmingham Heartlands site.”

It added: “The Heartlands site is working to capacity.  Managing capacity and flow remains an essential priority.”

It said the birth rate across Birmingham is expected to rise by six per cent.

Doctor-led births were stopped at Solihull in 2010 amid fears not enough medics were available to treat sick newborns. It was closed after a consultation in 2011.

As previously reported by The Silhillian, many women who choose to give birth at Solihull transfer to Heartlands during labour because of complications.

Some 98 out of 408 had to transfer in the 12 months from April 2011.

But the report said: “There have been no known recorded instances of babies being delivered whilst being transferred by ambulance and in labour from the Solihull Birth Centre to Birmingham Heartlands.”

It said a review will “develop a robust service to support the future demands which will be made on the services whilst understanding the needs of our community”.

Some 35 midwives had been recruited across the trust in 2010 and 15 more will start in the autumn, it said.

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