Fears for future of Oswestry's maternity unit
Temporary closures of Oswestry's maternity unit could lead to its ultimate demise, as women opt to give birth across the Welsh border.
Leading campaigner Liz Grayston says mothers-to-be are already choosing to have their babies at Wrexham because of continuing, temporary closures of the unit housed at Oswestry's Orthopaedic hospital.
Oswestry and Ludlow maternity units are currently closed because of sickness among staff across Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. They will remain closed until 8am on June 21.
"Mothers-to-be want to ensure they know where they will be giving birth and, at the moment, there is too much uncertainty over whether Oswestry is going to be open," she said.
A mother of four young children, Mrs Grayson founded the Save Oswestry Maternity Unit.
It wants to stop the downgrading of Oswestry to an on-call unit where the ward would be closed overnight but opened by a midwife if contacted by a woman in labour.
Mrs Grayston said making the move to an on-call system would bring an end to in-patient, pre-natal care for Oswestry.
"Closing the unit at night would mean that new mothers could no longer stay in Oswestry for rest and recuperation as they have been able to do," she said.
"If you have to have your baby in the consultant unit at Telford there is the option at the moment to transfer to Oswestry for recuperation.
"Spending a night or two in hospital following the birth helps bond with your baby, gives you time to recover from what can be an exhausting time, helps to establish breast feeding and gives reassurance to first-time mums," she said.
"We recently put out a survey and had 560 responses. No less than 80 per cent of people said that in-patient, post natal care is very important with 13 per cent saying it was quite important. Those are incredible figures and show than women want to stay in the unit after having their babies."
Mrs Grayston said the campaign group knew that some mothers-to-be from the Oswestry area were chosing to have their babies at Wrexham Maelor Hospital because they did not know whether Oswestry would be open.
"Is is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy."
Sarah Jamieson, head of midwifery at SaTH, said the the on-call proposal was to put a stop to the temporary closures, which health bosses knew had unfortunately been "disruptive" for both mums-to-be and staff.
"We are exploring the viability of adapting our current model of care to provide an on-call model to staff on demand rather than staffing buildings where there may be no activity," she said.
“It is important to stress that no final decision has been taken on this proposal, which would be an interim response to the on-going issues we are facing in terms of demand and staff availability," she said.