Fears that Ludlow maternity unit could be shut permanently
A nurse turned councillor has voiced further fears Ludlow's maternity unit could soon be shut permanently after another temporary closure.
Inpatient services at Ludlow's midwife led unit were suspended on Saturday for two weeks, which Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) said was necessary due to staff shortages.
The closure came just a week after the last one, for one night on March 3.
Councillor Tracey Huffer, who represents Ludlow East, said the repeated suspensions had Ludlow stuck in "Groundhog Day" - and it would only be a matter of time before it was shut for good.
Councillor Huffer, a practising nurse who used to work at Ludlow Community Hospital, said: "We are told by SaTH that women are choosing to give birth at the consultant-led maternity units in Telford and Shrewsbury. This is no more than a Hobson’s Choice. All expectant mothers need confidence in maternity services. They want to give birth in a calm and familiar environment.
“Ludlow and the other rural maternity units are closer to where many expectant mothers live. The units have long provided calmness and familiarity. They are the first choice for many mothers.
“But nervous mothers have little choice at the moment but to opt to go to Shrewsbury or to Telford, or even out of county to Hereford. If they choose Ludlow, the chances are it will be closed at no notice due to yet another staff shortage."
Councillor Huffer also hit back at SaTH chief executive Simon Wright, who last week dismissed claims made by MLU campaigners as "nonsense".
She said: "I am very angry that SaTH has in the past few days accused rural health campaigners of scaremongering over plans to close maternity units.
"We are not scaremongering. It is SaTH that is scaring mothers into giving birth a long way from their homes.
"I fear it will not be many weeks before SaTH announces that so few babies are being born in Ludlow and other rural maternity units, they must close permanently. Then the health trust will have got the result it clearly wants; shutting down all Shropshire’s rural maternity units."
Clinical Commissioning Groups are currently waiting for the go-ahead from NHS England to consult on proposals to close the MLUs at Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Oswestry to births, but denies the temporary closures are part of a plan to shut the units before this.