Babies to be born in South Shields again as hospital unit reopens from this morning

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Babies can be born in the borough again from today after a hospital unit reopened.

The delivery of babies at South Tyneside District Hospital resumed at 8am this morning following a month-long suspension.

The hospital said the "tremendous goodwill" of its "amazing staff" had allowed delivery services to return.

Delivery services were shut down on December 4 after the closure of the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) service on November 30, which the hospital said was due to acute staffing pressures within the unit.

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.

They said 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.

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust confirmed on Friday that a safe staffing rota for SCBU had 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.

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.