Cheltenham's birthing unit and Stroud's post natal beds will stay closed this year amid midwife shortage

Cheltenham General Hospital’s birthing unit and the postnatal beds in Stroud will not reopen this calendar year, according to hospital bosses. Midwife staffing numbers in Gloucestershire have been an issue for several years.

And the Aveta Birth unit in Cheltenham and the six postnatal beds at Stroud Maternity Hospital have been closed since 2022. Midwifery staff was centralised to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital to ensure safe staffing levels, and, in particular, one-to-one care in labour and birth.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has invested an extra £1.8m to increase maternity staffing, including obstetricians, consultants, administration support since 2020. But vacancies are still around 11 per cent and as such hospital chiefs do not believe it is currently wise to reopen the sites.

READ MORE: Ex-Gloucester mayor calls out 'almost two years of bullying and hate campaign' at city council

MORE NEWS: Cotswold villagers living in 'England's prettiest street' cut off by road closure due to 'dangerous wall'

Chief nurse and director of quality Matt Holdaway ruled out reopening the services in Cheltenham and Stroud at yesterday’s (May 21) health overview and scrutiny committee. “Both of those services have been closed since the autumn of 2022 due to staffing issues which continue.

“It’s reasonable to say we are not going to be in a position to look at reopening either of those services in this calendar year - due to those staffing issues. There’s a national shortage of midwives and local vacancies, long term sickness and maternity leave leading us to consolidate services in Gloucester birthing unit and obstetric unit.”

He said they are also commissioning a service review after a BBC Panorama programme highlighted maternity deaths in the county. Councillors were also informed about the recent Care Quality Commission inspection which deems Stroud Maternity Unit requires improvement.

He said the report highlighted issues around safeguarding training, consistency in contemporaneous risk assessments and concerns over governance. Inspectors did note that the team in Stroud work well together for the women giving birth and are very passionate about the philosophy of the unit.

They are well trained, he added.