Count down begins to return of delivery services at South Shields maternity unit

Dr Shahid Wahid, medical director of the trust.
Dr Shahid Wahid, medical director of the trust.
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The delivery of babies at South Tyneside District Hospital will resume this Monday from 8am.

Births have been temporarily suspended at the hospital since the December 4 following the temporary suspension of the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) service on November 30 due to acute staffing pressures within the unit.

Deliveries are due to begin again at South Tyneside District Hospital from Monday.

Deliveries are due to begin again at South Tyneside District Hospital from Monday.

Healthcare leaders say they had to make a very important safety decision to suspend births at the hospital while the SCBU service was unavailable due to staffing shortages.

This was to ensure ongoing safe care for pregnant women and babies and the decision was taken in conjunction with NHS partners around the region in the very best interests of patient care.

After working closely with staff over the past month to find a solution to the immediate staffing pressures, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed that a safe staffing rota for SCBU has now been secured for the next three months and work remains ongoing to ensure a safe staffing rota is secured beyond this time frame.

Pregnant women should contact their midwives in the usual way to discuss their birthing plans.

In recent weeks, the trust has already been in touch with women who are due to deliver up until the January 22 and any women who are due to deliver soon and have immediate queries can call the trust’s midwife-led telephone advice service which is available 24/7 on (0191) 202 4190.

The trust has thanked staff in SCBU and maternity services in South Tyneside, as well as union colleagues, for their understanding during this difficult time and for their commitment to deliver safe patient care.

Dr Shahid Wahid, medical director of the trust, said: “We are very pleased that we have been able to find a safe solution to the immediate staffing challenges in SCBU and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this positive outcome.

“I must stress, however, that the SCBU rota that we have been able to secure is for a three month period only and is once again reliant on the tremendous goodwill of our amazing staff who have pulled out all the stops to get us to this position.

“The safety and wellbeing of the mothers and babies in our care must always come first and we thank patients and staff for their understanding as we have worked through this difficult situation for everybody.

"We will continue to monitor the position on a daily basis to ensure that we continue to have safe staffing in place in the months ahead.

“We also now look forward to the outcome of the formal consultation process into local maternity services which will allow us to develop a robust, sustainable service in the long-term and help avoid any such crisis situations occurring again in the future.”