Scarborough midwifery unit to open next week after setbacks

By Susan Stephenson

SCARBOROUGH Hospital's new midwife-led unit is set to open on Monday following months of setbacks and delays.
The £1.5 million unit has been ready for months, but problems with recruitment of midwives has led to it standing empty.

The matter was brought before North Yorkshire County Council's scrutiny of health committee during a meeting at the Oasis Family Centre in Castle Road.

Scarborough health trust's chief executive Richard Sunley said the unit would be opening from 8am to 8pm from Monday to Wednesday at first, and would be fully operational from April 1. He said: "Clearly we would have liked to open sooner, but it wouldn't have been clinically safe to do so."

Mr Sunley explained that recruitment had proved a major problem, compounded by a change in midwifery training from 18 months to three years.

The trust's chief nurse Teresa Fenech said: "Staff have fought to introduce the maternity unit – they've wanted this for a long time.

"As part of the recruitment drive they've been in touch with every head of midwifery across the country."

She added that as recruitment had been so far-reaching, many applicants had given back word when they managed to get a job closer to home.

The opening of this unit, which is part of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) maternity review, will see midwife-led deliveries transferred to Scarborough from Bridlington, Whitby and Malton hospitals.

County Cllr John Blackie asked for assurance that these periphery units would not close down until the Scarborough unit was fully operational, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Ms Fenech said: "We will make no changes to the periphery units until the midwife-led unit is fully operational. We're talking about a seamless transition, but there is no time limit on this yet."

Scarborough Hospital was named as one of the safest places in the country to have a baby in a recent report published by the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries.

The hospital, which delivers more than 1,650 babies each year in its maternity department, has a below average rate of stillbirths and infants lost in the first month of life, compared with the regional and national average for other hospitals