'Devastating blow’ for local women and staff says RCM on South Tyneside maternity unit suspension of births

By RCM on 06 December 2017 Maternity Unit Closures

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust has suspended the delivery of babies at South Tyneside District Hospital. Commenting on the move, Becky Banks, Regional Officer for the North East at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This is a devastating blow and very disruptive to those women who were planning to give birth at the unit. It is also hugely disruptive for the staff working there who were not properly consulted with or informed about these decisions, and have still not been properly informed about them

“There is no partnership working at all from the trust. The lack of clear communication is leading to speculation and insecurity for women using the service and for our members and all the staff working there. It is chaotic and confused and this is not good enough.

“Whilst we must support this temporary closure to ensure safety, what is a concern is that there appears to have been a total lack of planning or preparation for this. There was also no consultation or communication with unions about the changes. I have grave concerns that the potential to loose maternity services permanently from South Tyneside could have devastating consequences for the local community as a whole.”

“What is now hugely important is that all the women affected are contacted and informed about this and how these changes will affect them, and what alternative arrangements are in place. I know that midwives and other staff at the trust are working tirelessly under extremely difficult circumstances to ensure that women booked to use services are getting the information and reassurance so that they can access services. There also needs to be good consultation, discussion and communication with the staff affected as to how it will impact on them and how this will be managed. 

“We are seeking a meeting with senior managers at the trust to discuss this as a matter of urgency, though we are running up against resistance from the trust to engage with us and other unions. They need to engage, communicate and consult as a matter of urgency.”

 Note to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.