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Alexandra Hospital vigil over maternity relocation

media captionProtesters march over maternity care

Campaigners have held a vigil outside a Worcestershire hospital in protest at the relocation of maternity services.

A decision to move all birth services from Alexandra Hospital in Redditch to Worcestershire Royal Hospital on Thursday was only announced last week.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs both sites, said it will be reviewed in February.

Many of the 20 to 30 protestors at the 12-hour vigil expressed their anger and disappointment at the plans.

Margaret Hindle, who has worked at the Alexandra Hospital for 12 years, including on the maternity ward, said she and her colleagues were upset.

Updates on this story and more from Hereford and Worcester.

image captionMargaret Hindle said her colleagues are upset by the relocation plans

"They're very shocked. I remember when I worked in the ward, people used to only just make it through the doors in time.

"You'd get dads leaving their cars on double yellow lines, bringing their wives in, their wives would deliver in a few minutes and the dads would come out and faint. It was my job to pick them up.

"You just wonder what will happen to those families now."

The trust has said the relocation decision was made because staffing had "become critical" despite an extensive recruitment campaign, employing experienced agency staff and asking neighbouring hospitals for help.

Mari Gay, Interim Director of Nursing at Worcestershire Acute hospitals NHS Trust said: "We would have liked to have kept this service going, but to maintain the safety of the babies we've had to make this temporary closure at the Alex and bring the service to Worcester."

The leaders of Redditch, Bromsgrove and Stratford-upon-Avon councils have written to the secretary of state for health about the plans and are calling for the trust to be put in special measures.

Stephanie Joseph worries about distance, after her son Nicholas had a complicated birth.

image captionStephanie Joseph said some mothers need instant medical attention

She said: "It makes it stressful. It's not necessarily just getting full term going into labour normally, there's lots of high risk pregnancies - mothers go into labour prematurely or have accidents at home - where they need instant or as quick as possible medical attention."

From the scene - Matthew Bone, political reporter for BBC Hereford and Worcester and The Sunday Politics:

The unit is expected to shut its doors at midday because the trust say they cannot get enough staff to keep the service going.

The decision will be reviewed in February but the unit will only reopen if circumstances drastically change.

While I've been outside, I've met former members of staff and mums who were expecting to give birth in Redditch and have now been told they'll have to go to Worcester.

The vigil started at 08:00 and is expected to end at 20:00 GMT and there is a strong feeling of disappointment and anger here, along with fears around the future of other services like children's and accident and emergency.

One woman, due to give birth next month, said she is unsettled by now having to go to Worcester, especially as she lives just five minutes away from the Alexandra Hospital.

Related Topics

  • NHS
  • Redditch

More on this story

  • Call to restore neonatal services at Alexandra Hospital in Redditch