Protest over Ludlow maternity unit proposals

Sarah Meek
Image caption Sarah Meek claimed "money was not available" for rural maternity services

Hundreds of people have marched through a rural town in support of its maternity services.

Protesters claim midwife-led services at Ludlow Community Hospital could close or be scaled down.

Organiser Sarah Meek said lives could be at risk if someone having "complications in birth" had to travel to Telford or Shrewsbury.

Hospital bosses said proposals included making some midwife-led units into birth centres.

The hospital recently closed its midwife-led unit for about three weeks over concerns about the condition of the building.

Image caption Protesters, many with their children, marched from Ludlow Castle to the hospital carrying banners

It re-opened in a more modern building last month and Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust said the temporary closure had been taken in the best interests of mothers, babies and staff.

However, some campaigners say Ludlow and two other midwife-led units are still at risk of closure in the longer term because of funding shortages.

Ms Meek said: "You can't put a price on a baby's life or a mother. If there are complications in birth you don't want to to be travelling to Telford or Shrewsbury.

"It's one hour away if traffic is good. Why should we have to?"

Sarah Jamieson, Head of Midwifery at the trust, said a review of services over the past two years had followed a "shift in choices" made by women over where they gave birth. They aimed to support choices while delivering "safe, high-quality services".

She said proposals included turning some smaller midwife-led units into birth centres which would "retain the full range of services" offered by the units but would not open overnight.

Instead mums-to-be would use an "on-call system" and then be supported through labour by their midwife.

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