Canterbury and Dover birthing centres 'should close'

Birthing centres in Canterbury and Dover should close because of the falling numbers of women choosing to give birth there, a review has found.

Dr Sarah Montgomery, who is chairing the review of maternity services, said women would instead be able to give birth at units in Ashford and Margate.

Other maternity services such as midwifery clinics and day-care services would remain at Canterbury and Dover.

Opponents of the proposal said women should be able to give birth locally.

The review is being carried out by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent.

'Consistent fall'

Figures show there are about 600 births a year at the Dover Family Birth Centre at the Buckland Hospital and the Canterbury Birth Centre at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

In contrast, there are about 7,000 births at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

Dr Montgomery said: "Over the past five years, we have seen a consistent fall in the number of women choosing to give birth in these centres."

The trust said a final decision had not been made and the plan would be subject to a three-month public consultation.

Martin Vye, a Liberal Democrat councillor at Canterbury City Council, said: "There is a need to ensure that people who cannot move so easily across the county continue to be able to give birth locally.

"I want to make sure that the voice of the women who want to have a choice is heard."

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