Women could be at risk during childbirth due to services shake-up

Dewsbury and District Hospital.
Dewsbury and District Hospital.

Women with complications during childbirth could be at risk because of plans to centralise specialist maternity services, an MP claims.

Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox raised safety fears over a shake-up of services which will spell the end of Dewsbury and District Hospital’s consultant-led maternity unit.

From next May, the hospital will instead have a midwife-led unit (MLU) for “low risk” births and mothers expected to have more complex deliveries will go to Pinderfields hospital in Wakefield.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust said the move would make births safer, and using MLUs for pregnancies classed as low risk has been recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

But Ms Cox said she was worried about the safety of women who have to be transferred between the hospitals if problems occur during their birth.

She said: “If expectant mothers face complications in birth, which is not uncommon, or if their new born babies need access to neo-natal services, they would need to be transferred to Pinderfields.

“You do not need to be a health expert to know that transporting women in labour or premature babies over to Wakefield in an ambulance puts them at risk.”

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, which is changing maternity services as part of its Meeting the Challenge re-organisation, announced the date of the new unit to open at Dewsbury last week.

Building work will begin on the new centre in October and it is expected to be open by May next year.

Obstetrics doctors will move to the labour ward at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

Ms Cox said she was not criticising trust bosses, but instead blamed the government for cutting the NHS budget and forcing trusts to reorganise services to cut costs.

She added: “This cut is politically driven, imposed by the government, not public servants who work at Mid Yorkshire Trust.”

Mid Yorkshire estimated that 500 low risk deliveries would happen at Dewsbury.

Women would have the choice of home births or delivery at the Pinderfields unit. Women considered high risk will go to the Pinderfields Hospital Obstetric Unit.