'Staff shortages' hamper service at £1.3m birthing unit

Royal Berkshire Hospital
Image caption Care at the midwife-led unit was suspended eight times in December

Birth rates at the Royal Berkshire hospital's £1.3m birthing suite are falling below target due to staffing shortfalls, the Trust says.

Care at the midwife-led Rushey Birthing Unit was suspended eight times in December alone as a result.

Two expectant mums were diverted to the main delivery ward the same month as a result of a lift being out of action.

Trust board papers state recruitment is on-going and a "retention framework has been implemented".

The unit reached its monthly target of delivering 20% of babies born in the hospital three times in 2017, the latest performance report reveals.

Based on the top floor of the Reading-based hospital, the suite opened in 2012 and is designed to create a relaxing and calm environment for expectant mothers.

Clinical equipment and drop-down beds are hidden from view, while mood lighting and birthing pools are also available in the unit's four individual birthing rooms.

Nationally, there is a drive to increase births in midwife-led units.

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