Unexpected baby boom at hospitals
Norfolk's hospitals have had a mini baby boom, with the county's biggest hospital saying it experienced one of its busiest maternity days ever.
The surge in babies being born happened over a two-day period almost two weeks ago, with Norfolk's hospitals seeing around double the number of expectant mums coming through their doors.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital delivered 41 babies in the two days from midnight on March 30 to midnight on April 1. It would normally only expect to deliver about 16 and staff say it could have been one of their busiest-ever times.
Hospital spokesman Andrew Stronach said levels were now back to normal, but birth rates had been steadily increasing in recent years.
He said: 'In 2003 we delivered 4,855 babies and by 2010 that had risen to 5,794. That's a rise of nearly 20pc (19.3) over a seven-year period.'
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To address the level of demand, the hospital is developing plans for a midwifery-led birthing unit to offer a 'home-from-home' birthing service, and which it hopes to open later this year.
He added: 'It would involve opening a unit with four ensuite birthing rooms plus a birthing pool room. The birthing unit would be a separate service to the community home birth service and the consultant-led delivery suite service that we already provide.'
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The James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston delivered 18 babies on March 31 and April 1 – an increase on its normal rate of around four a day. It was so busy dealing with local mums that it was unable to take extra cases from other hospitals.
At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn there were 20 births over the two days, an increase from the usual five or six a day.
A hospital spokesman said: 'It was a very busy time – and something you can't plan for too much in advance. Whereas, for example, in A&E you can triage patients and deal with them according to need, in maternity babies arrive when it suits them.'
It is unclear why the boom occurred, although perhaps one tongue-in-cheek explanation is that England's football team crashed out of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, losing 4-1 to Germany on June 27 – almost nine months before the mini boom.
Mr Stronach joked: 'We decided that it must have been that England were so disappointing that people decided to do something more productive than watch overpaid footballers underachieving.'
However, the boom was not experien-ced at Bury St Edmund's West Suffolk Hospital, where there were 17 births over the two days – just one more than it would normally expect.