King George Hospital labour ward closing today

King George Hospital

King George Hospital - Credit: Archant

Women will no longer be able to give birth at King George Hospital after the labour ward finally closes today.

The hospital, in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, will stop taking women in labour at 6pm.

Staff from the ward, who are being moved to Queen’s Hospital and other maternity facilities, are marking the closure with a party this afternoon.

The board of NHS North East London and the City (NELC) rubber stamped the decision to stop deliveries earlier this month.

The maternity department has been under threat for years but in 2011, health secretary Andrew Lansley said it could not be closed until the “right measures” were put in place.

Board members resolved that Queen’s Hospital, in Romford, and surrounding facilities in Waltham Forest, Newham and Barking are now ready for the transfer.

Speaking at the meeting at Becketts House, Ilford Hill, Redbridge clinical director Dr Sarah Hayes said capacity and quality concerns had been addressed at Queen’s.

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She revealed births at King George had been reduced accordingly from 150 in October to just 48 in February.

Helen Brown, director of transitional change, said the decision to close the labour unit was approved in principle in 2010 and steadily implemented.

She added: “The decision we are having to make is not about whether to make changes but about the safety of making them.

“We need to balance the risk of making the change against not making the change, because no decision is risk-free.”

From tihs evening, women will give birth at surrounding hospitals, leaving antenatal clinics, scans and parenting education at King George.

Cllr Andy Walker, from the Save King George Hospital Campaign, said: “It was very much a foregone conclusion – democracy isn’t working in Redbridge.

“All local representatives want a birthing unit there and we’re not getting it.”

NELC said maternity services would be “closely monitored” following the transfer.

Redbridge Council unanimously voted to “condemn” the decision to stop births at a meeting last week.

The council will now write to the secretary state for health, Jeremy Hunt, and the prime minister, David Cameron, asking them save the labour ward and scrap plans to close the hospital’s accident and emergency department.