Birmingham’s main maternity hospital was forced to close its doors to pregnant women after short-staffing pushed it to crisis point, an insider has revealed.
One expectant mum had to give birth on a general ward at Birmingham Women’s Hospital because there was no room in the delivery suite. She was then rushed to intensive care.
Short-staffing reached such critical levels on November 5 that there were only 12 midwives instead of 22 working that evening when at least 76 patients were in the hospital, the NHS worker claimed.
These included 30 women who had just given birth, 30 women who were in labour on Ward One, a general ward, and 16 women needing medical assistance on the delivery suite.
Dr Ros Keeton, hospital chief executive, confirmed that there were a shortage of midwives on duty on November 5.
He also admitted that one woman gave birth on a general ward. But he stated that she was not in danger and added that her need for intensive was not caused by where she had given birth.
He said that the hospital had recently hired 17 new midwives, but not all of them had started work at this point.
The NHS source said: “Morale is so low and a lot of midwives are off ill with stress after a shake-up that involved changing the midwives’ pay levels.
"The number of births have been increased from 5,500 a year to 8,000 but the hospital hasn’t replaced staff who left. There is so much pressure being put on the midwives, who are upset at not being able to give the care they feel they should give.”
Chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, Professor Cathy Warwick, said extra demands are being placed on midwives as NHS resources are dwindling.
She said maternity budgets are being squeezed and services cut.
Bosses of the Edgbaston hospital have been forced to save £6 million this year.
Dr Ros Keeton, hospital chief executive, said: “There was a shortage of midwives over November 5 and as a result we closed the unit for a very short period to ensure that patient safety was not an issue.
"With regards to the mother who gave birth on the ward, this was unprecedented and she was immediately transferred to the delivery suite.
“Her transfer to High Dependency was not in relation to where she gave birth and her care was not compromised at any time.
“All clinical areas are equipped for delivering babies safely and all midwives are trained to deliver babies regardless of where they are based.
“We have recruited 17 new midwives. Patient safety is paramount and whilst we did have a problem with staffing on this occasion, we have mechanisms in place to ensure that the care we provide is clinically safe.”