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Shropshire maternity staff 'feeling under pressure'

By Dominic Robertson | Bridgnorth | Health | Published:

Staff in Shropshire's maternity services are feeling "under pressure", the first stage of a review has revealed.

Dr Jessica Sokolov, said that interviews had revealed the staff are "not happy with the situation", as the future of the county's midwife led units (MLU) is reviewed.

Dr Sokolov was speaking at a meeting of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group's board, where she said that around 200 members of staff had been interviewed as part of a review into the service.

She said: "A lot of stuff that came out of it was not entirely positive. They are feeling pressured and are not happy with the situation as it stands."

SATH took a decision to close MLUs in Bridgnorth, Ludlow, and Oswestry, for six months from July 1.

All three units had faced closures at short notice due to staff being moved to cover shifts at Princess Royal Hospital's consultant led maternity unit to ensure it was safely staffed.

The future of the units is now subject to a review being conducted by Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Dr Sokolov said the review is looking at the financial and clinical sustainability of the service.

She said: "There is unlikely to be any reconfiguration of the service that means maternity services are truly sustainable."

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She added that staff are being moved to the consultant led unit because it deals with more women giving birth.

She said: "We cannot do that and keep the system as it is."

Dr Sokolov also urged people in the north of the county to register to have their say on the review at an event planned for Market Drayton on September 22.

Speaking ahead of the decision to close the units for six months Deirdre Fowler, director of nursing, midwifery and quality at SATH, said the consultant-led unit sees about 85 per cent of births in the county.

She said: "An increasing number of women are choosing to give birth at our consultant-led unit in Telford, rather than at our MLUs. In 2008/2009 MLU births, including home births, accounted for 26 per cent of our activity but in 2016/17 this figure has fallen to 13.1 per cent, with just 3.4 per cent of this activity taking place at Ludlow (0.7 per cent), Oswestry (1.1 per cent) and Bridgnorth (1.6 per cent) MLUs.

“This means we have seen a high level of demand on our consultant-led unit (85 per cent of local women are giving birth here). At the same time we have faced a combination of short-term and long-term sickness, as well as a significant fall in the number of midwives prepared to work overtime or temporary bank shifts to cover shifts at times of sickness. This has meant that at times we have had to temporarily suspend services at our MLUs due to staffing shortages."

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