Chris Skidmore MP visited Cossham Hospital last Friday to discuss the recently announced temporary closure of the Cossham Birth Centre, and to press for the importance of the Centre’s reopening as soon as possible.
The Trust told the MP that the very difficult decision to temporarily close the Birth Centre was taken due to the unprecedented high number of women needing induction of labour at Southmead Maternity Unit, as a result of the introduction of a new national maternity policy to reduce stillbirths. The temporary closure will ensure the appropriate levels of midwives and staff is reached to support all areas of the service at the Centre.
The local MP for Kingswood met with North Bristol NHS Trust Chief Executive Andrea Young and other representatives from the Trust’s Clinical Services and Women & Children’s Health Departments, who assured Chris that high priority was being given to ensuring the centre will be reopened very soon, and that the safety of all women and babies currently in their care is maintained.
The closure of the Birth Centre has seen patients and women in labour being diverted to the midwife-led unit at Southmead Hospital, in an effort by the Hospital Trust to maximise their midwifery workforce on one site. Six additional maternity beds have been introduced at the Southmead unit, with officials from the Trust currently in the process of recruiting additional midwives, including filling current vacancies, which will lead to a total increase in the permanent midwifery workforce of 24 full time midwives.
After the visit, local MP Chris said: “I really appreciated speaking first hand to NHS professionals at Cossham. I am pleased that it has been confirmed Cossham Birth Centre will only be temporarily closing and that extra resource and investment is going into recruiting midwives at North Bristol Trust. When it comes to the safety of new born babies' lives, it is absolutely crucial that we ensure appropriate staffing levels are in place and don't play party politics with decisions that are needed and necessary. I am pleased the Trust is focusing on ensuring the safety of local women and babies in their care, and was delighted to hear they are making good progress on recruiting more midwives and staff, which will enable the Centre to reopen at the end of February.
Cossham is a local treasure, and I will always stand up to ensure that it is open to the community, after it was threatened with closure before 2010. I hope that I can continue to help make the case also for additional facilities at Cossham, which has been a beacon of support and healthcare for our local community. Many of my family were born here, the hospital inspired my mother to become a NHS nurse, and I recently used the maternity facilities in the aftercare of my son Henry."
North Bristol NHS Trust has among the best neonatal outcomes in the country, with an average of 6,300 births a year, which includes approximately 350 births at Cossham Birth Centre and approximately 700 births at Mendip Birth Centre at Southmead Hospital.
North Bristol NHS Trust Chief Executive Andrea Young said: “We are very proud of Cossham Hospital and our staff were very pleased to show their local MP all the excellent services we offer patients there.
We are currently in the middle of recruiting significantly more extra midwives and are working towards reopening Cossham Birth Centre by the end of February as planned.”