Hospital chiefs pave way for baby centre re-opening

Hospital bosses say they are paving the way to re-open the shut down midwife-led baby unit in South Tyneside.

Midwife Joanna Wylie, centre, with maternity health advisors Kirsty Lamb, left, and Julie Dodd, right.
Midwife Joanna Wylie, centre, with maternity health advisors Kirsty Lamb, left, and Julie Dodd, right.

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has relaunched parents-to-be classes at the birthing centre in South Tyneside District Hospital.

The parent education classes had to be put on hold during the pandemic but have now resumed – also marking the first step towards the centre re-opening for births.

The birthing centre was closed in January because of staffing issues, but the Trust says steps are being taken – including an investment of £680,000 to strengthen the workforce and recruit more midwives – to get it up and running again.

Melanie Johnson, executive director of nursing, midwifery and allied health at the trust.

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The parent classes include advice on labour, water birth and active birth, with others topics in the pipeline.

The sessions are being led by Joanna Wylie, the Trust’s new patient and staff experience lead midwife and her colleagues.

She said: “I’m really excited the classes are back and they’re already proving popular. They give people a great chance to get information that will really help them and see around the birthing centre too.

"It’s also an opportunity to meet each other and socialise in a relaxing and welcoming setting.”

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Melanie Johnson, executive director of nursing, midwifery and allied health at the Trust said: “We’re delighted that our parent classes are up and running again at the Midwifery-Led Birthing Centre.

“This marks an important step forward as we continue to work towards reopening for births and a huge amount of work is ongoing, working with our midwifery teams, to make sure we plan for this properly.

"We will confirm the date for reopening as soon as possible and continue to communicate with women and families in our care.”

The centre opened in 2019 and the Trust says it remains fully committed to its success and making sure it is the first choice for any women in South Tyneside, Sunderland and neighbouring areas, who wish to have a midwifery-led birthing experience.

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Parent education sessions are held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and evenings.

To book a place, call the hospital’s Antenatal Clinic between 9am and 4.30pm on 0191 404 1031.