Protests over Shropshire maternity unit closures

Protestors in Oswestry
Image caption The three rural maternity units closed on 1 July, two days after the Trust announced the closures on 29 June

Campaigners have gathered to protest the closure of three rural maternity units across Shropshire.

Midwife-led units in Oswestry, Ludlow and Bridgnorth will be closed for up to six months over staffing shortages.

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust said closures are in place to "ensure the safety of mums".

Expectant mothers will be offered alternative locations for births. One mother said "no one should have to stay in a hospital too far from home".

Protesters marched from Gobowen to the Oswestry unit. Liz Grayston, who organised the march, estimated 300 people showed their support.

Image caption The Trust says closures will stop short notice closures and remove uncertainty.

She said the extra pressure on other maternity units in the county was already showing and mothers were being sent home within 24 hours of a Caesarean section.

"We're not taking this lying down," she added.

Ellie Jones, from Oswestry, gave birth to twins following an emergency Caesarean at the Telford unit.

She was transferred to the Oswestry unit four days after the birth, but said she was sent home after two nights due to a staff shortage.

"I was not ready to be discharged. I am a new young mum recovering from major abdominal surgery with not one, but two, new babies to look after.

"They didn't even have the staff to come visit me at home," she said.

Image copyright Ellie Jones
Image caption Ms Jones' sons Enzo and Arno were born prematurely

Ms Jones said the town's maternity unit should remain open as the Telford unit is a 50-minute drive away.

"A lot can happen in 50 minutes when you're in labour. For people that don't have the transport, it's really hard to get there," she added.

The Trust said long-term staff sickness and a fall in the number of midwives willing to cover for colleagues had made it difficult to staff all six of its maternity units at all times.

Deirdre Fowler, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Quality at the Trust, said closures had been a "difficult decision" and it was working on long-term sustainable options.

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