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Some Women in UK Traveled 100 Miles To Have a Baby


Would you travel up to 100 miles to have a baby? Some women in the UK had to do just that last year, and it was not by choice. Women were being turned away from hospitals and maternity units in droves, some within minutes of giving birth.

The Tories conducted research which revealed that last year, an average of two pregnant women per day—at least 747 women --were refused entry into maternity units because the units were full or because the staff could not guarantee the safety of the mother and her baby. The total number of closures had risen 25 percent from two years earlier.

The research also shows that nearly 50 percent of hospital trusts, of which there are 148 that provide maternity services, had to close one or more maternity units at least once last year. Ten percent had to close more than 10 times.

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The problem appears to have several facets. For one, the National Health Service (NHS) officials underestimated the number of births last year by 40,000, leaving hospital trusts understaffed to handle the influx of expectant mothers. The birth rate in the UK in 2009 was the highest it had been in 26 years. Another problem was a shortage of midwives, about 3,000 too few.

The Health Department states that “England is one of the safest places in the world to have a baby. Capacity for maternity service has increased and there are now more midwives than ever before.”

Does this mean the worst is over? There have been temporary closures of maternity units which the NHS is planning to close permanently. This seems to indicate that women in the UK should investigate the maternity staffing levels at hospitals in their area and not rule out having to travel many miles to have a baby, just in case.

Mail Online April 22, 2010