When news happens text pix and video to 80360. Start your message with BE then leave a space.
Full-up Poole hospital tells mums in labour to stay home or go to Salisbury
WOMEN in labour have been turned away from Poole’s maternity hospital at busy times.
Mums-to-be are warned that low-risk beds at St Mary’s are so busy that they cannot be promised a place when they go into labour and could be told to stay at home and wait for a midwife, or travel as far as Dorchester or Salisbury.
And an investigation by the Daily Echo shows that during 2012 the low-risk beds were full on 17 separate occasions, with seven women told there was no room.
And up to the end of May this year, five mums were unable to get in during two busy spells when the beds were full again.
Hospital chiefs are promising investment in extra beds after 4,578 births took place at St Mary’s last year.
But the problems will continuing until an extra 13 beds are made available “by the end of this year”.
Shelma Vaughan, inset below, who runs the Longfleet Baptist Church Toddler Group and has two sons and a daughter, said it is “very distressing for any mother” to have added worries in labour.
“It’s such an emotional time when you’re having a baby and therefore if things happen which make the delivery more complicated it makes it that much more stressful,” she said.
“Having to travel huge distances can be frightening and especially if it’s your first labour it’s scary enough anyway.”
When the pregnant women call St Mary’s and cannot be fitted in, the alternatives include using Royal Bournemouth Hospital.
Bournemouth provides a midwife-led service without specialist consultants at hand like they are at Poole.
This means if there are any complications during birth that can result in an ambulance journey from Bournemouth to Poole, pregnant mums being warned this could take 25 minutes.
New figures showed there were 813,200 newborns in Britain in the year to June 2012, the highest total since 1972.
And Shelma sympathised with hospitals for not being able to plan for increases like schools can.
She said: “If the birth rate is still high then obviously we need to ensure there are enough beds available.”
ST MARY’S maternity hospital in Poole currently has four low-risk labour rooms and beds, eight high-risk rooms, 17 post-natal beds, 10 ante-natal beds and two bereavement rooms.
A £4m building programme will provide an extra 13 maternity beds.
The unit is also adding three more birthing pools to make a total of five and improvements are being made to the neonatal unit.
The extra facilities will mean up to 6,000 babies can be born there each year, up from around 4,600.
Sandra Chitty, head of midwifery, said: “Babies do not always arrive according to schedule so there will always be an element of unpredictability in the exact numbers of women coming in at any given time.
“Very occasionally and regrettably, we cannot accommodate all women who wish to give birth here.
“In those instances, we have robust plans in place to ensure the mum-to-be has the best birthing experience possible.”
SIOBHAN Freegard, founder of the UK’s largest parenting site netmums.com said: “Being turned away from the hospital you want to give birth in when you are already in labour is one of the most distressing things which can happen to a mum.
"But sadly it’s becoming more and more common. A combination of the rising birth rate and cuts to local health services mean more mums are reporting being unable to have their baby at their local hospital.”
She said she has seen a significant rise in the number of mums reporting being made to travel up to an hour away from home to an unfamiliar hospital “which adds to the worry and stress of labour”.
She added: “In Poole the situation is especially difficult as it is a very desirable area with many new families moving in at a time when the local hospitals are having funding restricted and alternative ways of raising cash such as the Bounty service are being scrapped.
“Until such time that maternity services are expanded to match the rising birth rate, there is very little that mothers can do.
“We would advise mums to still plan as normal to give birth at their local hospital but also prepare friends, family and their partner that they may have to travel further afield.
“Being aware it may happen is the best way to protect mums from panicking if it does happen and will help them feel more in control of where they deliver.
“The situation is far from ideal but where you actually give birth is less important than having a healthy, happy child and a safe delivery.”
Comments are closed on this article.