latest health care news

15.01.18

Maternity services return after a month of closure at Tyneside hospital

South Tyneside District Hospital has restarted maternity services a month after shutting them down for safety reasons.

The initial decision was taken due to staffing concerns which were thought to affect the safety and wellbeing of mothers and babies.

Following the closure of the hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), on 30 November of last year, bosses took the decision to temporarily suspend all baby delivery services from 4 December, resulting in the trust contacting around 165 women who had been booked into the maternity unit.

After working closely with staff to find a solution, the trust’s leaders have confirmed that services will reopen for at least a three-month period, during which a safe staffing rota has been agreed, although further work will be necessary to ensure maternity care can continue after this period.

Dr Shahid Wahid, medical director at the trust, thanked everyone for their help through the issues, including colleagues across the region who offered advice, and the North East Ambulance Service for its help during the closure period.

However, he stressed that services were only able to continue because of the “tremendous goodwill” of staff at the hospital.

“The safety and wellbeing of the mothers and babies in our care must always come first and we thank patients and staff for their understanding as we have worked through this difficult situation for everybody,” Wahid continued.

“We will continue to monitor the position on a daily basis to ensure that we continue to have safe staffing in place in the months ahead.

“We also now look forward to the outcome of the formal consultation process into local maternity services which will allow us to develop a robust, sustainable service in the long-term and help avoid any such crisis situations occurring again.”

The future of local maternity services has recently been consulted on as part of phase one of the Path to Excellence programme.

The formal public consultation for this concluded on 15 October 2017 and a decision about the long-term future is expected from NHS South Tyneside CCG and NHS Sunderland CCG in February 2018.

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