Under the Freedom of Information Act published figures show maternity units were forced to close their doors to expectant mothers 382 times in 2016.
According to the figures published, 42 (that responded to the FOI request) out of 96 maternity units shut temporarily, with the main reasons due to lack of staff and not enough beds.
It was also found that some maternity units closed for more than 24 hours at a time, with ten trusts closing temporarily on more than ten separate occasions.
The Government has responded to the figures saying that the closures were “well-rehearsed” and it’s “misleading” to say they were down to staff shortages, according to BBC News.
Maternity unit closures in 2016 were slightly up in comparison to 375 in 2015.
Responding to the figures, Head of Health and Social Policy at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), Sean O’Sullivan, said: “Midwife managers work incredibly hard to keep services safe and to provide high quality care, but they cannot do this without the correct levels of funding and resources to employ enough midwives.”
The Department of Health said that there are now around 2,000 more practising midwives in comparison to May 2010 and 6,500 currently in training.
“The RCM respects and supports decisions made to close maternity units when failing to do so this will compromise the safety of the service and the women and babies already being cared for. Nevertheless, if units are regularly and persistently having to close their doors it suggests there is an underlying problem around capacity and staffing levels that needs immediate attention,” Sean O’Sullivan added.
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