A birth centre will shut down for a year “on the grounds of safety” due to a shortage of midwives.
The Friarwood Birth Centre at Pontefract General Infirmary, in west Yorkshire, today announced it will close its doors from next Friday until October next year.
A statement from Martin Barkley, chief executive of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said that despite recruiting 15 midwives this year, the trust was having to close the centre “on the grounds of safety”.
While the centre had been plagued with rumours of closure recently, Mr Blakely insisted the announcement only related to the lack of staff.
Recent figures showed around 200 women choose to give birth at the centre every year.
Yvette Cooper, the Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, tweeted: “This is the damage the Tories have done to our NHS.
“After ten years they’ve completely failed to recruit or retain enough midwives & they’ve abolished the student bursary so many people can’t afford to train.
“Pontefract mums are being hit by the Tories total fail on our #NHS.”
Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust said it will keep open its services at Pinderfields Hospital and Dewsbury and District Hospital.
Mr Barkley said: “Despite having been delighted to recruit 15 midwives from the cohort of newly qualified midwives that join the NHS at this time every year, it has not been enough to ensure we have an adequate number of midwives across three midwife-led units and our obstetric service based at Pinderfields Hospital.
“Five thousand seven hundred women give birth at Pinderfields Hospital each year and more than 300 at the Dewsbury midwifery-led unit, which typically has 50 per cent more births than at Friarwood in Pontefract.
“We have to deploy our midwives where they are most needed and therefore we have reluctantly taken the difficult decision to temporarily close the Friarwood Birth Centre on the grounds of safety.”
He added: “This decision is purely driven by our shortage of midwives, and does not in any way pre-empt discussions that have been taking place about the future of the Friarwood Birth Centre.
“We keep our midwife vacancies under constant scrutiny and, should the situation change, particularly when we once again have the opportunity to recruit from the cohort of newly qualified midwives next autumn, we will review this decision.”
The Standard has approached the Department of Health and Social Care for comment.