Fears for future of hospital's birth centre

November 02 2018
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A MUM who gave birth to her three children at Cossham's midwife-led centre says there is a real fear the extended closure of the unit could become permanent.

Lauren Pinkett started an online petition when she discovered the centre had temporarily shut due to an "unprecedented" number of women needing inductions and a shortage of midwives.

North Bristol NHS Trust has now made the decision to extend the closure until the end of February and says Cossham-based midwives have been diverted to Southmead to cope with the demand for more complex care.

But Lauren, whose petition has already attracted more than 3,500 names, said the news did not bode well.

"I feel there's a real danger that it may not reopen," she said.

"The trust has said it's due to the increase in the number of inductions but I feel this is going to be an ongoing issue.

"The inductions are obviously important for high-risk mums, like older mums or those with a reduced movement situation, but what about all those who are low risk? Why can't they filter those out from Southmead and send them to Cossham?"

Lauren, 30, lived in Honey Hill, Kingswood, when she gave birth to her first child four years ago. Even after moving further away, she returned to Cossham to have her other children.

"My granddad, William Pinkett, helped save the hospital many years ago, so it has a lot of importance to me and that is why I wanted to have my children there," she said. 

"The birth centre is absolutely faultless. The passion the midwives have is amazing. As soon as you turn up you feel welcome; you don't feel like you're a number. 

"It's well run, clean and modern. It's basically a home from home and if you need anything nothing is too much bother. That's why people love it so much."

North Bristol NHS Trust has an average of 6,300 births a year, including around 350 at Cossham.

The trust says the increase in inductions and women needing more complex and specialist care is due to a new national maternity policy aimed at reducing stillbirths.

Interim director of nursing at North Bristol NHS Trust, Helen Blanchard, said: "To ensure we can run the safest maternity service possible, we have taken the difficult decision to extend the temporary closure of Cossham Birth Centre until the additional midwives we are recruiting are in place.

"However, if enough staff can start earlier, the date to reopen will Cossham Birth Centre will be brought forward.

"We recognise that any changes to a woman’s pre-planned maternity care, and the choice they have made about where to have their baby, can be disappointing.

"However, our absolute priority must be the overall safety of all women and babies in our care."

Lauren's petition can be found online at bit.ly/2CGTxVO.