2016 saw roughly 4 out of 10 maternity units closed at least once, albeit on a short-term basis, according to NHS figures. The findings throw yet more focus on the struggles the NHS is facing and were requested from 136 hospital trusts by Labour party representatives. Out of the 96 that responded there were 42 units that confirmed they had to temporarily close due to underfunding.
According to the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust they had to close in order to “maintain safety and staffing levels.” This led the facility to close on 30 separate occasions in 2016.
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, claimed that the findings are indicative of the “devastating” effect that funding cuts are having on babies and parents across the country. Ashworth went on to say: “It is staggering that almost half of maternity units in England had to close to new mothers at some point in 2016.”
Representatives from the midwifery profession are pushing for further efforts to be made to relieve English maternity facilities of the “significant pressures”. Royal College of Midwives (RCM) representative, Sean O’Sullivan, says the analysis collected by the Labour party is: “no surprise to the RCM and really further proves just how badly England’s maternity services are struggling due to understaffing.”