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Temporary suspension of Midwife Led unit at Bishop Auckland Hospital

Temporary suspension of Midwife Led unit at Bishop Auckland Hospital

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust will be suspending midwife led deliveries at Bishop Auckland temporarily from Saturday 6 July.

This decision has been taken purely on the grounds of ensuring the safest birth options for mothers and babies.

Professor Chris Gray, Executive Medical Director and Mike Wright, Executive Director of Nursing said:

"This decision is taken with regret, but is to ensure the safety of mothers and babies, and follows discussions with clinical colleagues, directors and external stakeholders.

"Midwife led care is safe and desirable for most women, in the right circumstances, and the MLU at Bishop Auckland provides an excellent service which is appreciated by mothers and families who choose to have their babies in this way.

"Our concerns are about our ability, in current circumstances, to guarantee a safe outcome for mothers or babies who develop complications during labour and need to be transferred to a consultant led obstetric unit in an emergency. 

"There are around 5 births per week in the unit, and a transfer is required in around 30% of cases.

"The target response time for potentially life-threatening emergencies, including maternity transfers from Bishop Auckland, is 8 minutes in 71% of cases.

"Unfortunately, It is not possible for the ambulance service to meet this target in 100% of cases. Therefore we are unable to guarantee timely transfer and appropriate intervention - although this has not resulted in any adverse incident to date.

"We are working with our health economy partners over the next two to three months to agree the best way forward.

"We will continue to offer the full range of choice options to women.  These comprise home delivery, midwifery led birth or obstetrician led service at our other sites.

"We will be having individual discussions with each mother about the best option for them.

"Staff will continue working within our community and hospital midwifery services.

"This decision has been taken purely on the grounds of ensuring the safest birth options for mothers and babies."

'Every aspect of my emergency care was dealt with quickly, efficiently and professionally with full explanations and compassion from all staff involved'.

Patient, Emergency Department, Darlington Memorial Hospital