New research published by the Labour Party has revealed that nearly half of England’s maternity units closed to new mothers at some point in 2017, up on the previous year. Cambridge University Trust is included in the list, and is among the eight trusts that had closures lasting more than 24 hours as well as being among the eleven trusts shut temporarily on more than ten separate occasions each in 2017.

The most commonly reported reason for closures was capacity and staffing issues. The Royal College of Midwives’ latest estimate is that the NHS in England has a shortage of 3,500 midwives.

Data obtained by Labour under the Freedom of Information Act shows:

  • There were at least 287 occasions when maternity units were closed to new mothers in 2017
  • 41 hospital trusts which responded to an FOI request said they temporarily closed maternity wards to new admissions at some point in 2017
  • Eight trusts had closures lasting more than 24 hours, while 11 trusts shut temporarily on more than ten separate occasions each in 2017
  • Hospitals report capacity and staffing issues as most common reason for closures
 Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, said: “Our local trust and hospital staff are doing the best they can in an environment where public services are being stripped of vital resources, but we can not allow poor funding by this Government to be an excuse for healthcare provision to slip into a dangerous decline. The Government is accountable and is causing our maternity wards to be understaffed and under pressure. Labour is committed to making child health an absolute priority with our ambition of the healthiest children in the world. That means giving every child the best start in life including proper investment in maternity services.”
“It is a damning insight into the terrible situation that the NHS is in when new mothers are being turned away from their local maternity ward due to staff closures and capacity issues. It is not acceptable that at the moment when a women needs the NHS the most, it is not there.”
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