Leeds & West Yorkshire

Pontefract Hospital staff shortages lead to closures

Pontefract Hospital Image copyright Google
Image caption The closure of the birth centre at Pontefract Hospital will be reviewed next October

A birth centre and beds in a stroke unit are to be shut due to staff shortages at Pontefract hospital.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust said it would close the hospital's Friarwood Birth Centre "on the grounds of safety" until next October.

It is also closing 12 of the 42 beds at the hospital's stroke and rehabilitation unit.

MP Yvette Cooper called the midwife unit closure "an absolute disgrace".

Martin Barkley, the trust's chief executive, said the hospital was struggling to recruit in a "national shortage of midwives".

"Nor is it fair to our staff to continue to stretch our midwifery resource so thinly", he added.

The trust would still offer midwifery-led facilities at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield and Dewsbury Hospital, it said.

It would continue to run antenatal and postnatal clinics at Pontefract and the closure would be reviewed next autumn.

'Absolutely criminal'

Ms Cooper, Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, said: "It's an absolute disgrace that our midwife-led maternity unit is set to close for nearly a year due to a national shortage of midwives."

The MP said she had already been to see the Health Secretary Matt Hancock "but he has completely failed to do anything about it".

The temporary reduction for stroke rehabilitation and other post-operative care was because of "less pressure on the beds" at Pontefract for these patients, said the trust.

John Trickett, Labour MP for Hemsworth, said of the stroke closures: "It is absolutely criminal that they [NHS staff] are not being given the support they need to properly do their job."

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