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MP hits out over woman’s home birth

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck claims that an expectant mum - due to give birth at South Tyneside District Hospital - ended up delivering her child at a friend’s home after being told she was “not in labour” at another hospital. .

Mrs Lewell-Buck made the case public at a House of Commons debate which she secured following the temporary closure of South Tyneside’s maternity unit earlier this month due to staffing shortages.

In total 163 women have been contacted to make alternative arrangements for births which were due at the hospital up until January 14.

Mrs Lewell-Buck said the woman from South Shields had gone to the expense of travelling to a neighbouring hospital, only to be told that she was not in labour.

The woman later gave birth at home according to Mrs Buck. No other details were provided during the speech.

Last night Mrs Lewell-Buck said the unit involved was the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead.

She said: “The woman’s friend contacted me earlier this week on behalf of the woman. She was told she was not in Labour but later had the baby at her friends house.

“I am not naming the woman but she is a constituent of mine and the important thing is that she and the baby are well.”

She told the debate travelling to neighbouring hospitals was costing expectant mother and “average of £40”

She said: “One woman was sent home after being told she was not in labour by a neighbouring hospital.

“Once home, and very much in labour, she ended up having a home birth because she simply could not afford another taxi, and ambulance waiting times were too long.”

Derek Curry, Head of Midwifery at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust said: “‎We are looking into this case to understand fully what may have happened.

“Having a baby is a very special time and we apologise to all those families whose original plans have been affected by the urgent, but necessary, patient safety measures to suspend births in our hospital.

“There are occasions ‎when women may be sent home from hospital during the early stages of labour, or when they attend hospital believing they are in labour but this is then ruled out.

“This is not an uncommon occurrence. We recognise however that the temporary suspension in South Tyneside means women will have to travel further than usual when this does happen.

“I would like to remind women who are pregnant that our 24/7 midwife advice line is available round the clock on 01912024190.

“Women can call this number at any time for advice if they think they may be going into labour and we will work with our neighbouring units to coordinate care as efficiently as possible.”