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Maternity units turn women away

20th March 2008

Many maternity units at hospitals in England were forced to turn women in labour away and divert them to other hospitals because they were already full, according to new figures.

pregnancy

Using freedom of information legislation, the Conservatives survey discovered from 103 trusts that responded, 42% had to close at least once at some stage last year to expectant mums and 10% were closed on more than 10 occasions.

The figures also show that the larger maternity units were worst affected with 74% of the trusts that diverted pregnant women to other sites having more than 3,000 births a year.

One of the biggest maternity units, at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, reported closing 28 times.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “The government’s plans to close maternity units when services are already overstretched fly in the face of common sense.

“Labour are fixated with cutting smaller, local maternity services and concentrating them in big units. But women don’t want to have to travel miles to give birth. And they certainly don’t want to have to travel even further because they’re turned away by the hospital of their choice.?

By 2009, all women will be offered a choice over where and how they have their baby.

The National Childbirth Trust said it was a major cause of anxiety to parents when they telephone or arrive at a maternity unit when in labour to find the doors are shut.

The Department of Health spokesperson said diverting women to other hospitals should be the exception rather than the rule.

 

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