England

Trowbridge and Paulton maternity unit cuts approved by health bosses

Paulton Maternity Services protest against cuts
Image caption There have been several protests about the closures

Women will now have to travel further to have their babies delivered after cuts to two midwife-led maternity units in Somerset and Wiltshire.

The units in Paulton and Trowbridge will no longer have post-natal beds, meaning mums-to-be will have to travel to hospital in Bath to give birth.

Health bosses say it is safer and more efficient for women to give birth where specialists are on hand if needed.

But former midwife Marie Brooks said local units were safer for some.

The decision, made by the three clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) which cover Bath, Swindon and Wiltshire, will see the units still offer antenatal and postnatal clinics.

'Friendly environment'

It has been opposed locally by protesters who feel women should be allowed to give birth close to where they live.

Ms Brooks said: "It's all been proven that mums are much more relaxed if they come to somewhere nearer to home, in a friendly environment where they can have a happy, healthy birth."

The CCG plans will see new midwifery units at Salisbury hospital and the Royal United Hospital in Bath.

Director of service delivery at Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs Lucy Baker said over the past three years fewer women were choosing freestanding midwifery-led units.

"Lots of mums have told us throughout our engagement that they would like the option of an 'alongside-midwifery unit'.

"This is where a mum can have a midwife-led birth but if there are any concerns about the mum or the baby, they can be immediately transferred to an obstetric unit with all the support they might need," she said.

NHS managers said 95% of the time beds in the Paulton and Trowbridge midwifery units were empty and they need to staff more complex births.

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