Pontefract Hospital birth centre reopens after Pinderfields staff shortage

Pontefract Hospital
Pontefract Hospital

The maternity clinic at Pontefract Hospital has reopened on Monday (November 5) after it was closed for six weeks.

The Friarwood Birth Centre was shut by the Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust, which runs the site, in late September because of staff sickness.

Midvives at Pontefract have since been covering for colleagues at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, where the staff shortage was.

Now, women who've already arranged to have their babies at Pontefract can do so, but the long-term future of the Friarwood clinic remains doubtful.

Trust bosses announced a review into its midwifery services last month, with the permanent closure of Friarwood a strong possibility.

The trust has pointed to figures showing that less than 200 mums a year give birth at Pontefract as evidence that midwives there are being "grossly under-utilised". As a result they say they are no longer booking any more future births at the hospital.

But councillors have expressed concerns that any decision to shut it for good will result in the whole of Pontefract Hospital being wound down and primed for closure itself.

Yvonne Rolan, assistant director for nursing and midwifery at the trust, said: "We can confirm the Friarwood Birth Centre at Pontefract reopened on Monday November 5, following temporary closure for a six-week period.

"The trust will honour any commitment we have already made to women who are booked in to give birth at Pontefract’s Friarwood Birth Centre, barring any unforeseen operational circumstances.

"However, we will now stop taking any further bookings from women to birth at Pontefract, in order that we don’t leave women uncertain about their choice of place to birth while we review the service.

"If any of our local women have any concerns or questions, we would encourage them to speak to their midwife."