Shropshire recruiting more midwives
Midwife led units in Shropshire will reopen for births in October, only if enough midwives have been recruited to ensure they can be properly staffed.
The chief executive of Shropshire and Telford Hospitals Trust, Simon Wright said the best experience a low risk mother could have was giving birth at home or in a midwife led unit and said the current overnight closures of Oswestry, Ludlow and Bridgnorth were very much a temporary measure.
Speaking to Oswestry Town Council, which has criticised the closures, Mr Wright said more midwives were currently being interviewed and recruited and said he hoped they could be in post in time for the three month review of the situation on September 29.
"We have 160 midwives at the trust and a significant number work in the midwife led units and in the rural areas. The trust has earmarked a sum of money to increase the number of midwives."
The trust has said the three units will remain shut for between three or six months with mothers instead having to give birth either at home or in Telford or Shrewsbury.
He said more and more mothers were chosing to give birth in the consultant led unit with yearly births at Oswestry down from 90 to 40.
"We could not continue having staff in empty buildings overnight with no patients while their colleagues in the consultant unit were rushed off their feet," he said.
Mr Wright said the temporary closure was not connected with the current review of maternity services across the county.
"We have no desire to remove any local and rural provision for mums and we have not desire to shut services.
"Mums are choosing to come to the consultant unit in considerable numbers. Something is not working - we are not persuading them to use their local units.
"The best experience a low risk mum can have it to give birth at home or in a midwife led unit."
Councillor Nikki Hughes told the meeting that mothers had told her the goalposts had changed over what was considered to be a low risk birth and said more and more were being told they would have to have their babies in Telford.
Mr Wright said that risks were being reviewed all the time.
"We have had some terrible tragedies and we have to ensure that we have a gold standard of midwifery care.
"Risks are being focused in on far more now than they were five or 10 years ago."
He said it could be that anxiety over those risks was leading mothers to chosen the consultant led unit.
"There are times when we have to blue light mums very quickly."