Redbridge women will still have to travel to Hackney for Caesarians

Plans for more women to have Caesarians at the borough’s maternity unit rather than be forced to travel to Hackney for the procedure have been rebuffed by health bosses.

In October, Caesarians for Redbridge, Havering, and Barking and Dagenham women were transferred to Homerton University Hospital, Hackney, as an eight-week measure.

But health chiefs have not ended that arrangement, and with Homerton saying it cannot handle the extra Caesarians over the Christmas period, King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes, planned to build in extra capacity at its maternity unit.

That was despite a decision by secretary of state for health Andrew Lansley to close the labour ward and transfer services to Queen’s Hospital, Romford –which itself has introduced a cap to maintain a “safe capacity” of births at the hospital.

Two obstetric operating theatres, which currently handle emergency Caesarians, were set to also take in women undergoing “non-urgent low-risk” Caesarians.

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The postnatal Japonica ward, which closed in November last year, was also to re-open under the plans.

But NHS Outer North East London (ONEL), which needed to give approval to the plans, has this afternoon turned them down.

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Chief executive Alwen Williams said the original moving of Caesarians to Homerton, “was developed to ease pressure on BHRUT [Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust] and to provide headroom to address a number of the most urgent concerns.”

She added: “We also needed to be sure that services never became so busy as to be unsafe.

“Until that improvement plan is agreed with all stakeholders, including the CQC [Care Quality Commission], the recent changes to maternity services will remain in place.

“This includes planned Caesarean sections being carried out by another organisation (either the Homerton Hospital Foundation NHS Trust or Barts and the London NHS Trust).”

It is understood the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel will step in to take on Caesarians which Homerton is unable to.

A spokesman for BHRUT said tonight it will “facilitate” NHS ONEL’s decision.

She added it has made “significant progress” in its maternity wards, including improving the level of one-to-one care for women in labour, reducing the waiting time for women to be assessed, and making sure women get access to pain relief quickly.

A new midwife-led unit at Queen’s will be formed when funding approval from commissioners is given, which will ultimately allow King George’s Labour ward to close.

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