It’s understood that a high volume of maternity unit closures are taking place as a result of staff shortages; potentially putting patients at risk.
Figures reportedly revealed that, last year, there appears to have been an alarming number of maternity unit closures caused by capacity issues. Reportedly, almost half of units across the country had to close their doors to new mothers at some point. Some of the units were also closed for longer than 24 hours as well.
An aging population of midwives and staff shortages is being blamed for the problem. When resources are an issue, quality of care can be badly affected.
Maternity unit closures caused by staff shortages
It’s understood that a number of maternity unit closures are being caused by staff shortages.
There’s said to be a 3,500 shortage in midwives which has been part of the reason for the forced closures of units. Research indicates that a large number of midwives are older, with few new younger staff coming into the profession.
Some have claimed we’re in the midst of a maternity unit crisis.
What the NHS says about the maternity unit closures
The NHS has responded to criticisms over the number of maternity unit closures caused by shortage of staff.
The Department of health and Social Care say that the temporary closures are “well rehearsed safety measures which trusts use to safely manage peaks in admissions.”
Should we be worried about the level of maternity unit closures
There are reasons to be worried about the level of maternity unit closures. A particular concern is the underlying cause of the closures being shortages of staff
What we look at as lawyers is how limited access to care can affect the patients. We know that shortages of staff can lead to incidents of medical negligence. At the end of the day, these can be avoided with proper resources available.
Where patients are being turned away as a result of forced maternity unit closures, and patients suffer harm, they have the right to seek legal advice for help. It shouldn’t have to come to the point that a patient suffers and needs to claim. When a patient’s health and finances are adversely affected by inadequate care, what choice do they have?