A birthing centre will not close indefinitely, a health trust has said a week after shutting its doors without prior warning.

The NHS trust says the birthing unit at Pontefract Hospital will not close for good, despite several short closures.
The NHS trust says the birthing unit at Pontefract Hospital will not close for good, despite several short closures.

A birthing centre will not close indefinitely, a health trust has said a week after shutting its doors without prior warning.

The midwife-led Friarwood Centre at Pontefract Hospital has been shut in recent days and staff fear for its future after a recent series of similar intermittent, short closures.

But David Melia, director of nursing and quality at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, (pictured right)denied it was to permanently close.

He said: “The midwifery-led unit at Pontefract has had some times when it has closed over the past few weeks.

“This was as a result of staff sickness and so we had to ensure that the safety of the whole service was maintained.

“The situation is reviewed twice each day, for the whole service, and it is anticipated that the unit will return to being open all the time very shortly.

“For all women who are booked in to attend the midwifery-led unit at Pontefract, they should continue with the normal process of calling the triage team before they set out and they will be advised accordingly. We are very sorry if there has been confusion about this but we’d like to emphasise that the birthing unit has not closed down.”

Despite this, there are staff members who are angry about the sudden closures, which they say are up to three days at a time.

The latest closure lasted almost a week.

One member, who did not want to be named, told the Express: “This place is well used and everybody is quite angry, nobody knows where they are going to be working from one day to the next.

“The staff walked in last staff week to find a note saying ‘closed until further notice’.

“It’s all down to mismanagement and they’ve have been closing the place on and off for the last couple of months.

“Women are not getting the birth they want - they are turning up randomly and the place is closed, there’s no announcement.”

The unit opened in 2010 and has four rooms for expectant mothers, one with a large birthing pool.

It opened to give mothers a “safe, relaxed and informal environment to give birth”. Contact the triage team on 01924 543002 or 543003,