Midwife-led birth centres are places where women can give birth in a calm atmosphere led by midwives rather than doctors.
However, a decision by the NHS to close eight birth centres in England has caused controversy and has led to criticism that women are being denied the choice of where they would like to give birth. It has been said that the closures are due to an increase in older motherhood, the rise in maternal obesity, a shortage of midwives, the drive to reduce stillbirths and more women choosing to give birth in hospital.
Such closures include the Cossham birth centre in Bristol and birth centres in Trowbridge in Wiltshire and Paulton in Somerset. NHS leaders claim that not enough women use the centres to justify keeping them open. The number of births at Trowbridge has fallen from 291 in 2015-2016 to 109 in the first nine months of 2018-2019.
NCT a parenting charity has stated that they are ‘really disappointed, sad and frustrated to hear about the loss of these midwife-led units’ and ‘such closures are a restriction of the choice that women have been promised for many years by government ministers.’ Since 2007 women have been promised the right to choose whether to give birth in an obstetric unit, midwife-led unit in a hospital, a standalone midwife-led unit or at home. However, due to a shortage of midwives and the closure of midwife-led centres this choice is being continually denied.
Other closures include the Halcyon birth centre in Smethwick. As well as births being suspended at Shropshire’s three birth centres with fears that they will never reopen.
A lady who had three children in the Bristol midwife-led centre has organised a petition to keep the unit open.
Moosa-Duke Solicitors are specialists in clinical negligence law. If you believe that you or a family member have been a victim of negligence, due to private or NHS treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0116 254 7456 to discuss your concerns.