Limited uptake for maternity unit at Downe Hospital

The midwife-led maternity unit at the Downe Hospital has had a limited uptake from expectant mothers.

The unit has the capacity to deal with 300 births a year and since it opened in March, has delivered 16 babies.

Some local GPs have expressed concerns about not having doctors and consultants at hand and are referring women to the Ulster Hospital instead.

Jim Wells, the DUP South Down MLA and chair of the Stormont Health Committee, said the figures were disappointing.

'Positive experiences'

"It's a slow start and we hope thing will be busier by the autumn, and we'd like to think by the end of the year we will exceed the target of 50 births," he said.

"GPs in North Down have been referring mothers to Dundonald or the Lagan and some don't have the confidence in the unit which is a shame but the mothers who have delivered at the unit have had really positive experiences."

Mr Wells, who campaigned to have the unit opened said he understood that GPs offered independent advice in the best interest of patients.

"We have state-of-the-art facilities, highly experienced staff and I would say to GPs and mothers, talk to the 16 women and find out about the first-class treatment they received."

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