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'Low capacity and poor staffing' caused almost half of maternity units to shut doors to new mums

RESEARCH published by Labour has revealed that low capacity and poor staffing caused nearly half of England’s maternity units to be closed to new mothers at some point in 2017.

The data, which was obtained by a Freedom of Information request, revealed that there were at least 287 temporary closures of units, including eight lasting longer than a day.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Expectant mothers deserve reassurance that the local maternity unit will be there for them when needed.

“It is a disgrace that almost half of maternity units in England had to close to new mothers at some point in 2017. The uncertainty for so many women just when they need the NHS most is unthinkable.

“Under this government, maternity units are understaffed and under pressure. Labour is committed to making child health an absolute priority with our ambition of the healthiest children in the world.

“That means giving every child the best start in life, including proper investment in maternity services.

“Every pregnant women turned away from a maternity unit due to staff shortages and shortages of beds and cots deserves an apology from government ministers for the years of Tory cuts, deliberate under-resourcing and mismanagement of the NHS.

Mothers and babies deserve better than this.”

In 2017, the Royal College of Midwives said that the NHS in England had a shortage of 3,500 midwives, demanding action and investment across the service to aid recruitment.

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