'Significant issues' with maternity unit staffing

A general view of Westmorland General Hospital
A report highlighted staffing concerns at Helme Chase, based at Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal [LDRS]

"Significant issues" with on call staff availability at a maternity unit have been highlighted in a new report.

The Midwifery Workforce Review, prepared for directors at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust, reveals there to be "insufficient staff" to cover the on-call rota at Helme Chase in Kendal.

According to the report, this has led to home birth suspension and "intermittent" birth centre closure.

The trust said "there may be times when it is not possible for women or pregnant people to give birth at the unit".

The report stated: "During this review significant issues have been identified with the Helme Chase community, birth centre and home birth on-call availability."

The document said the roster could not fulfil the needs of the service "due to the staffing model", reports the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Closures review

Helme Chase is a midwife-led unit based at Westmorland General Hospital.

This means there are no doctors present, the NHS website states.

Women who have been identified with an uncomplicated pregnancy, meaning they are unlikely to have complications while giving birth or after their baby is born, can choose to give birth at Helme Chase.

Sue Stansfield, interim director of midwifery at the trust, said: "We are experiencing some staffing issues at Helme Chase, so there may be times when it is not possible for women or pregnant people to give birth at the unit, but we are reviewing this on a daily and weekly basis to limit the impact as much as possible."

The report added that a review of all closures and suspensions over the last two years was being undertaken.

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