A Norfolk hospital closed its maternity unit more times than almost any other hospital in Britain last year.

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The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn, closed its doors to pregnant mums 24 times last year, making it the fifth-worst in Britain in a BBC investigation.

Health watchdogs placed the hospital in special measures last October, citing a lack of nurses as a concern.

Valerie Newton, deputy director of nursing and patient experience, said closures were based on staffing levels.

“The trust is always concerned when any closure impacts on our patient services. It should be noted when the unit is closed, the closure is reviewed on a four-hourly basis.”

Jo Segasby, director of women, children’s and cancer services at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said the demand for services there has grown. She said: “There were 14 closures of the delivery suite from April 2013 to March 2014 with fewer once the unit expanded.

“We make every effort to accommodate women in labour and a decision to temporarily close the maternity unit is not taken lightly.”

A spokesman for the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston said it has not experienced any maternity unit closures.

But Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, described the situation as the “tip of the iceberg”.

She said: “It is a sign of serious underlying problems in maternity services. England remains seriously short of midwives and we still need another 4,500 extra midwives in the NHS, now. When units close their doors it leaves those women turned away possibly upset and disappointed because they are not giving birth in the unit of their choice.

She added: “It is also very worrying for those women who... may be distressed to have to travel to another unit, possibly some miles away.”

Have you been turned away by a maternity unit? Email natalie.copeland@archant.co.uk

1 comment

  • This hospital is not fit for purpose. They know how many women are booked in at any one time so they have willfully failed to maintain staff levels at the necessary level One might think, from what one hears, that the QE2 has an absentee problem in general .Upset is a hugely disrespectful underplaying of how this affects women in labour, They phone up. as instructed, when their contractions are a certain distance apart and labour much more progressed than was the case in the past .And then instead of being admitted they are told they face a journey to Norwich, The Rosie in Cambridge or possibly Bury St Edmunds or Peterborough All while their baby is about to make an appearance and there is a risk of complications which might endanger mother and baby. Or the baby might be born in a lay by . Maybe it is time to look a how money is spent on fat old men who smoke and have a dicky ticker and spend it on women and their babies instead.

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    Daisy Roots

    Sunday, July 13, 2014

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