Cap on births at Goodmayes maternity unit shows it ‘cannot cope’

Pregnant women expecting to give birth at King George Hospital will be asked to go elsewhere if they go into labour during “busy” periods, in a move it is claimed shows the trust “cannot cope”.

Hospital chiefs will allow a maximum of five births at any one time at the hospital in Barley Lane, Goodmayes.

Women due to have a caesarean section are having their operations moved to Homerton University Hospital, Hackney, for the next eight weeks.

Queen’s Hospital, Romford, will have no more 15 births allowed at any one time.

Both hospitals will have capacity for a small number of extra births, including women who are in advanced labour or are in need of urgent care.

But Labour Ilford South MP Mike Gapes fears the move is a reduction in services “by stealth”.

He said: “The same people proposing to run down services at King George Hospital are the same who are bringing a cap on births at King George.”

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He said he has written to Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley seeking assurances the move is not a “pre-cursor to something bigger”.

Mr Lansley is currently deciding whether to give the go-ahead to the closure of the A&E and labour ward at King George.

Conservative MP for Ilford North Lee Scott said: “I have concerns that this is a sign they can’t cope.”

He added he was confident trust chief executive Averil Dongworth was trying to address problems at the trust.

Deborah Wheeler, director of nursing at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Once more than a certain number of women have given birth or are in labour, we will make arrangements to help others deliver at a nearby hospital which might be less busy.

“This will protect safe capacity for women who arrive needing urgent care, as there are enough rooms and midwives to provide one-to-one care for 20 births at Queen’s Hospital and seven at King George Hospital.”

Women in Essex living outside of Redbridge, Havering and Barking and Dagenham will have their babies at Basildon or Broomfield Hospitals.

This arrangement will last until April, while the caps introduced have no specified end date.

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