Beds, Herts & Bucks

Watford hospital's private maternity Knutsford Suite to close

Watford General Hospital Image copyright West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Image caption Watford General Hospital will close a private maternity delivery suite in May

A hospital has suspended its private maternity service to concentrate on NHS patients, following a visit from health watchdog inspectors.

The Knutsford Suite, at Watford General Hospital, will shut on 1 May.

The decision was made after "immediate feedback" from a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection, the hospital said.

One patient said she was "absolutely devastated" and had started a petition to keep the suite open.

Mothers-to-be who paid for care at the suite will either be looked after by the NHS or will need to book into another private hospital.

Formal report due

Lauren Latner, 36 weeks pregnant with her second baby, was booked into the Knutsford Suite in May.

She said she felt "absolutely devastated, apprehensive, anxious and nervous".

"What am I going to do? It's a stressful time for me as it is and this has just added to that," said Ms Latner.

"I am writing to Jacqueline Kelly MBE (executive director) and the board to ask that they do not stop private care and private deliveries of babies at Watford General."

The CQC is expected to publish its formal report "within the next couple of months".

The hospital's chief nurse, Professor Tracey Carter, said: "We will respond to findings at that time.

"We also apologise for the inconvenience caused," she said.

The 27 women due to give birth at the £430-per-night suite have the choice of either becoming an NHS patient in Watford or a private patient elsewhere.

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