Lack of births at Stafford's County Hospital
A lack of births has cast doubt over safety at a hospital's midwife-led delivery centre.
Between one and three babies are delivered a month at Stafford's County Hospital, but about 350 births a year are needed for the unit to remain viable, bosses say.
The new chief executive says the low numbers are "not safe" and raise questions about the unit's future.
An effect on staff motivation is among the concerns.
A consultant-led obstetric service was moved from Stafford to Royal Stoke University Hospital in January 2016, leaving a midwife-led service at County Hospital for births considered a lower risk.
University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust runs the site and chief executive Tracey Bullock told a meeting with Staffordshire County Council on Monday she had "real concern".
She said: "[The numbers are] nowhere near enough. It's not safe and it's not effective, it saps the motivation of staff who have to sit there night after night and do nothing.
"We need to be achieving in the region of 350 births a year for that to be a viable obstetrics unit.
"If we can't achieve that, we seriously need to be asking some questions."
Just one baby was born at the hospital in February, said Marcus Warnes, from Staffordshire's Clinical Commissioning Groups, at a further meeting on Thursday.
"If mothers want to have maternity services continue to be provided at County Hospital they need to use them. You have a choice - exercise that choice," he said.
Gnosall Parish councillor Gail Gregory said patients were choosing to be closer to emergency care.
"They won't gamble with their lives or their children's lives. That's why numbers are falling and it's no wonder why people won't go there."
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