Public consultation over Shropshire maternity shake-up is delayed
The planned shake-up of maternity services in Shropshire has been delayed, with health bosses saying it is likely to be a number of months before the public can have their say.
Bosses from Shropshire clinical commissioning group say they have been unexpectedly told that NHS England must now give the go-ahead for a public consultation to begin.
Health bosses will have to submit a pre-consultation business case for approval.
Under the new proposals, which have been signed off by Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin CCGs, women will no longer be able to give birth at the rural midwife-led units in Oswestry, Ludlow and Bridgnorth.
Instead women will be able to give birth at the consultant-led unit at Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, at the hospital’s neighbouring midwife led unit at PRH, at a free-standing midwife-led unit at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital or at home.
Dr Simon Freeman, accountable officer for Shropshire CCG, said the news is likely to delay the public consultation process for a small number of months.
He added: "It has to go through the NHS England assurance process.
"It can identify issues that maybe haven't been picked up.
"Overall it could save time, but it is frustrating."
Under the plans, a series of maternity ‘hubs’ would also be created to support women before and after birth.
It comes as health campaigners have expressed their dismay at the repeated temporary overnight closures of Shropshire’s rural maternity units.
The three rural midwife-led units reopened to births on New Year’s Day after a suspension due to staffing issues last year.
But there have been a series of temporary overnight closures since then that Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust – which runs the MLUs – has blamed on staff sickness.
On Friday the trust announced the unit in Oswestry would be closed until February 25 after saying expectant mothers were not choosing to use the facility.