Gloucestershire's hospitals buck national midwife shortage trend
MATERNITY services at the county's two major hospitals are bucking the national trend of midwife shortages.
Hospitals across the UK have been forced to close their doors to mums-to-be because they do not have space to keep up with a rising birth rate.
However, NHS bosses have said neither Cheltenham General nor Gloucestershire Royal hospitals have had to turn women away because they are oversubscribed.
The number of births in England is currently at its highest level in 40 years and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) presented Parliament with a report this week detailing the increasing pressures maternity wards are facing.
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An RCM survey of midwifery chiefs across NHS trusts in England revealed more than half had to close their doors an average of seven times a year, diverting women to other hospitals for help.
This is not the case in Gloucestershire. Maternity services in the county were rearranged two years ago in a bid to meet needs.
And Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has not had to close the doors at its birth centres due to a lack of midwives or had to turn away mums since the re-jig.
A spokeswoman for the trust said the organisation was proud of the service it provides to expectant mothers, stating it strives to ensure 'personalised, one-to-one maternity care'.
She said: "We are aware that there may be shortages elsewhere, but in Gloucestershire we are confident that we have some fantastic highly skilled midwives and that these are employed by the trust in adequate numbers to provide expectant mothers with a high standard of one-to-one care.
"Our trust does not use agency midwives and any temporary staff used to cover unexpected absences are employed by our own trust bank, so that we can be reassured that these midwives provide the same high standards of care.
"Since reconfiguration in January 2011 we have not been required to close the whole maternity unit due to a lack of midwives, or to turn away expectant mothers."
The birth unit at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital has been closed once in the last 24 months but bosses insisted this was an operational rather than midwifery issue.