Residents tell of ‘risk’ as low Hartlepool hospital reports just three births

editorial image

People in Hartlepool say ‘there is too much risk’ using the town’s midwife-led baby unit after it emerged just three babies were born at birthing centre last year.

Council bosses are aiming to increasing the ‘worrying’ number of births at the maternity unity at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Fears were raised last year over the future of the maternity unity by the council’s audit and governance committee due to the declining number of births.

Figures have shown since the unit became midwife-led in June 2008, town births plummeted from 452 in 2009, to 34 in 2015, nine in 2016, and just three last year.

Councillors are looking at ways to improve the figures but readers have reacted to the news of the lack of births with little surprise on the Hartlepool Mail’s Facebook page

David Riddle said: “What do you expect when you make it potentially unsafe to have your child there?

“The staff there are unable to offer you a doctor if there’s a difficulty with the birth. So you run the risk of you child or partner dying.

“Who’s going to take that kind of risk?”

Clair Bage said: “There’s too much risk involved it’s a beautiful suite too but with no doctors to help in emergency it’s no wonder people when they have the option go elsewhere.

“I’m surprised there was three born there to be honest.”

Emily Rivers said: “I never had a choice at all with my children, even when I asked I was told it’s not open anymore.”

Nelson Pope said: “It’s no surprise at all.

“Why would anyone want to take even the slightest risk if anything was to go wrong?

“You want every possible help nearby you can, it doesn’t matter what other units they visit. It’s just as easy to go elsewhere.”

Sam Alinson said: “How is it even staying open when there is basically no births each year, what is the point?

“Must be big questions over its future unless something changes big and fast.”

Cats Elaine said: “Good, it needs reporting.”

Councillors have also visited the Blackburn Birthing Centre in a bid to look at how to increase the number of births.

The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said there are a number of factors contributing to the amount of women choosing to give birth at Hartlepool and they are committed to providing quality care.

Alongside the three deliveries in the Hartlepool Centre in 2017, there was 5 home births in the town.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service