Maternity confusion could ‘cause anxiety’

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Plans to temporarily move maternity services from Barrow to Lancaster have been scrapped.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT), announced last week that it would be moving consultant led maternity services and the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at Furness General Hospital in Barrow to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) because of staff shortages.

But following last minute crisis talks on Tuesday, when the move was due to take place, the trust announced that it had been able to secure “additional experienced, qualified neonatal nurses” in order to safely staff the SCBU at Furness General Hospital.

Georgina Sommerville, branch co-ordinator for the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) in Lancaster, Morecambe and district said: “At the NCT we strongly believe that all pregnant women should be able to choose where they wish to give birth, in a setting that feels right for them and their baby.

“Government policy in England guarantees that women and their partners will be given the opportunity to make informed choices throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period, including choice of place of birth.

“This is clearly difficult to achieve when expectant parents are unclear about the future of their local maternity services and can add an unwelcome element of uncertainty and anxiety.

“We welcome the decision to maintain maternity services at Furness General Hospital in the hope that it shows a general commitment to maternity services across the area.

Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive, UHMBT, said: “The Trust board, together with its NHS partners, will be constantly monitoring the situation and working on robust plans to ensure safe, sustainable staffing levels can be maintained.

“We will keep the public, governors, staff and stakeholders fully informed of any developments.”