Maternity services are set to be re-opened at South Tyneside District Hospital
Staff shortages within the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) forced health bosses to announce the unit’s temporary closure at the end of November.
This was followed by the suspension of all births at the hospital a week later.
Trust bosses say the move was taken to ensure the ‘ongoing safe care for pregnant women and babies’ and had been done in conjunction with NHS partners around the region.
But while they say the service still remains in a “very fragile” state due to staffing pressures, they have been able to put in place a safe staffing rota for SCBU after talks with staff.
The rota is secured for the next three months, starting Monday, with work ongoing to ensure it continues beyond the time frame.
The situation is set to be monitored daily as the trust looks to bolster the staffing position.
Meanwhile, pregnant women are being asked to contact their midwives in the usual way to discuss their birthing plans.
Dr Shahid Wahid, medical director at South Tyneside NHS Foundation 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.”
The Trust has already contacted women due to deliver up until January 22.
The Trust has thanked staff in SCBU and maternity services, as well as union colleagues, for their understanding and commitment to deliver safe patient care as well as NHS colleagues at the region’s neonatal and maternity networks, neighbouring maternity services and the North East Ambulance Service for their help and support during this temporary suspension of services in South Tyneside.
The future of local maternity services has recently been consulted on as part of phase one of the Path to Excellence programme. The formal public consultation for this concluded on 15 October 2017 and a decision about the long-term future is expected from NHS South Tyneside CCG and NHS Sunderland CCG in February 2018.
Women due to deliver soon and have immediate queries can call the Trust’s midwife-led telephone advice service available 24/7 on 0191 2024190.