South Tyneside Hospital halts childbirth services on safety grounds

Image caption, The trust described the suspension as "an urgent safety measure"

Childbirth services are to be suspended at a North East hospital, health chiefs have announced.

The measure, at South Tyneside District Hospital, in South Shields, will come into force at 08:00 GMT on Monday.

The trust that runs the hospital said it had taken "the important safety decision" after advice from experts.

The maternity department was initially restricted to handling "low-risk" deliveries following the suspension of services at the SCBU on Thursday.

'No option'

However, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust said it had now been given guidance to send expectant mothers to neighbouring hospitals to give birth.

"Although we have been able to put urgent safety protocols in place for a very small number of low-risk deliveries since the suspension of our SCBU service, this is not something which can be sustained," trust medical director Dr Shahid Wahid said.

More than 160 women booked to have babies at the hospital up until 15 January will be contacted and alternative arrangements made.

Martyn Boyd, manager of the Northern Neonatal Network, said: "It is simply not possible to find extra appropriately skilled staff from other neonatal units to support the SCBU in the short term.

"This has left no option other than to temporarily suspend the service, meaning it is therefore no longer possible to continue delivering babies on site to to possible safety risks without the SCBU facility being available."

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