Some trusts in London and the South East are closing standalone birth centres and warning they cannot support home births because of high levels of demand for ambulance services from covid patients.
Women in East Sussex who planned to give birth at Eastbourne District General Hospital and Crowborough Birth Centre have been told they need to go to other units. Both Eastbourne and Crowborough have standalone midwife-led units and women who have a difficult labour would need to be transferred by ambulance to another hospital.
Both East Sussex Healthcare Trust and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust, which run the services, cited pressure on the ambulance services as the reason for the closures. The trusts, both of which are served by South East Coast Ambulance Service Foundation Trust, have also suspended support for home births.
Services are continuing at a similar birthing unit at Maidstone Hospital, with private ambulances transferring women to Tunbridge Wells Hospital if needed. However, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust has posted on Facebook to warn women the situation may change and it is monitoring ambulance response times to determine “the safety of our out of hospital birthing choices”.
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Source: HSJ, 6 January 2021