Sadness as Honiton Maternity Ward closes for three months

PUBLISHED: 17:35 24 July 2017 | UPDATED: 09:09 27 July 2017

Honiton Hospital. Picture by Terry Ife. Ref mhh 0072-03-07TI

Honiton Hospital. Picture by Terry Ife. Ref mhh 0072-03-07TI

Archant

NHS health bosses say the closure, which is expected to last for three months, is down to combination of 'staff vacancies and unforseen sickness absence'.

Expectant mothers in and around Honiton will have to travel more than 15 miles be seen to after the town’s maternity ward suddenly closed overnight.

NHS health bosses say the closure, which is expected to last for three months, is down to combination of ‘staff vacancies and unforeseen sickness absence’.

The shutdown has been described as ‘deeply saddening’ by Heather Penwarden, chairman of Honiton Hospital League of Friends.

Mrs Penwarden said: “We were aware that a public consultation of Standalone Midwifery Units in Devon was planned for next year, but this sudden decision based on lone-working and safety issues has taken us all by surprise - including the staff working in the units and the mothers already booked in for planned deliveries.”

A spokesman for NHS Royal Devon and Exeter Trust said maternity services at Honiton will remain suspended until it has ‘safe staffing levels’.

They added: “However, all antenatal and postnatal clinics, midwifery support and home birth services are unaffected and running as normal.

“For anyone requiring inpatient maternity care, we will make immediate arrangements for them to attend our main maternity unit in Exeter or Tiverton Birth Centre, so that mother and baby continue to receive the highest standard of care.”

But Mrs Penwarden said: “Whilst we wholeheartedly agree that the safety of mothers and babies must be paramount, many generations of children have been born at Honiton Hospital with the mothers giving very positive feedback about their birthing experiences.

“This significant change in practice, along with the closure of the medical beds, heralds the end of an era for the way we care for people in Honiton from birth to end of life.

“The League of Friends remain committed to the care of people locally and will continue to support our midwives and our community nursing teams in any way we can.”

The spokesman for the NHS added that Honiton Minor Injuries Unit is unaffected by the temporary changes to some maternity services.

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