Shropshire maternity campaigners hit out over unit closures
Campaigners have hit back at claims that there are not enough babies being born in rural areas of Shropshire to keep midwife led units open for births.
A review is under way into the future of units, particularly those in Bridgnorth, Ludlow and Oswestry and last week Dr Julian Povey, the chair of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said only a fraction of births needed to keep them open were being delivered.
Oswestry MLU has been shut for a number of weeks, which, protestors say is the main problem.
Liz Grayston, who is one of those fighting to keep births in the rural towns, said the reason was because the units had been closed for births off and on all year.
“Births have fallen in the past 18 months in Oswestry because the unit has been shut,” she said.
“Prior to that Oswestry saw births on a level with those eight years ago. Those figures were 83 in 2015/16 and 82 in 2009/10.”
The Oswestry unit had been expected to reopen again yesterday but it is believed it will open later this week.
Consultation on the future of the units is not expect to begin until October at the earliest.
Dr Povey said numbers had been falling in the last five to six years and that it was not possible to have a ‘gold star’ maternity unit in every town.
His views have led to a flurry of comments on social media including the Save Oswestry Maternity Unit Facebook page.
Mrs Grayston said the authorities should look at why the figures are so low.
She said births had fallen in the past 18 months in Oswestry because the unit had been shut.
“Prior to that Oswestry saw births on a level with those eight years ago,” she said.
Mrs Grayston said: “The significant decline in numbers of midwife led births have been at the MLU in Shrewsbury – 207 in 2015/16 compared to 478 in 2009/10 – and Telford – 359 in 2015/17, 488 in 2009/10.
“Birthing services have pretty much been suspended since last July, with brief open periods at the start of this year.
“There needs to be local births for local mothers and local community beds for local mothers.”
Units in Oswestry, Bridgnorth and Ludlow have been subjected to multiple closures in the last year due to staff shortages. The review is looking at retaining births in Shrewsbury and Telford and having pre and post natal services but no beds in the other areas.