Expectant mums told that they can no longer give birth at home

Nusrat Ghani

The Royal College of Midwives has said a long-term shortage of midwives has been exacerbated by the pandemic, leaving many hospitals short of essential maternity staff.

The Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust [MTW], which runs both the Pembury-based hospital and the Maidstone facility, has now told expectant mothers they can no longer give birth at home.

MTW say that all births taking place in a hospital would ensure the safety of mothers and babies.

In a statement to pregnant women, the Trust said: “Due to significant pressures on our maternity services, we have taken the extremely difficult decision to temporarily suspend our home birth service.

“We would like to express our sadness with this decision and understand this will be disappointing to those who have chosen a home birth but your safety remains our priority.

“The maternity team are working tirelessly to minimise the impact on your pregnancy experience and this decision will be reviewed regularly.”

East Kent Hospitals NHS trust has also decided to suspend home births due to the midwife shortage.

MTW had been criticised earlier in the pandemic for its strict rules on visitors at its maternity services, with pregnant women unable to bring partners with them to many appointments.

This policy has now been reversed and women can have somebody with them throughout all stages of pregnancy.

The news also comes as MTW is struggling to get through record backlogs of patients due to the Covid crisis.

Some 35,000 people are currently waiting for non-emergency treatments such as hip operations.

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