Babies could be born in Hartlepool again following a midwife recruitment drive by the town's hospital trust
A council chief has welcomed reassurances by health bosses to see a ‘fully operational’ maternity hub in Hartlepool within months.
The Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council met with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust about maternity provision at the University Hospital of Hartlepool after reports that women can not have their babies at the hospital.
Council Leader Councillor Shane Moore says he has been assured the hospital trust is on course to see a fully operational maternity hub with a full complement of midwives after a recruitment drive by the autumn.
Councillor Moore, who is also Chair of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, called for the meeting after reports the Holdforth Road site wasn’t currently delivering babies due to staffing problems.
The hospital trust told the Mail last month that maternity services at the hospital were still open providing ante and post-natal care and women could give birth at home.
But it said for a delivery service to remain sustainable, it must have more than 250-300 births a year, while in recent years the number in Hartlepool had fallen to below 25.
Coun Moore said: “We’ve had a very helpful meeting with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust and have been reassured we are on course to see a fully operational maternity hub, with a full complement of midwives, to be in place by autumn of this year.
“Hartlepool is leading the way on the introduction of maternity hubs and this is a first for the foundation trust.
“Residents will recall that the Council’s Audit and Governance Committee called for the creation of a maternity hub in the town following an in-depth investigation into services and I am delighted the trust is still fully supportive of that proposal.
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“The trust was very open with us that they have – in line with national trends – experienced midwifery shortages, but stressed they have worked hard to address this via a successful recruitment campaign and they expect to have a full complement by September.”
The council’s Audit and Governance Committee is due to receive an update from the Trust about the creation and development of a maternity hub on Thursday, August 22.
Councillor Moore added: “Moving forward, we will be working with the trust to ensure this is a fully utilised birthing unit and not just a maternity hub that provides pre and post-natal services.
“In particular, we are looking forward to working with the trust to increase the number of women who give birth at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.”
A hospital trust spokesperson said: “We currently run a maternity hub at Hartlepool which is operational Monday to Sunday. This seven day a week service offers pre and post-natal care, as well as a number of workshops supporting parents-to-be and new parents.
“Our midwives at this site are on hand for advice and guidance for the community.
“Following a recent successful recruitment centre, we will be welcoming a new group of midwives into the organisation in the autumn which will enable the Trust to plan and implement a new model, to support being able to provide a delivery service at the Hartlepool site.
“We continue to work in partnership with Hartlepool Borough Council to utilise the excellent maternity facility we have at Hartlepool Hospital.”