Figures reveal no babies have been born in Kirklees hospitals for more than a year due to staff shortages - but birthing centre could re-open in summer 2024
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The birthing facilities at both Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) and Dewsbury and District Hospital are currently closed.
Huddersfield Birth Centre’s services were suspended in March 2020 as a “temporary response to Covid pressures", although the site is yet to re-open due to ongoing staffing issues.
The closure of Dewsbury’s Bronte Birth Centre is much more recent, closing its doors in May of last year due to staff shortages.
At last week’s meeting of Kirklees Council’s health and adult social care scrutiny panel, members heard that Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) has an “aspiration” to open its Huddersfield birthing facility next summer.
Chairman of the panel, Coun Bill Armer (Con, Kirkburton), told of how he had attended a meeting with senior staff members at CHFT, discussing the prospect of reopening HRI’s maternity services.
He said: “As it stands, unless they’re born at home, children can’t be born in Kirklees, which doesn’t seem right.
“I was informed that home birthing continues to be an available option to Huddersfield but that the rates of take-up of this are very low.
"At the opposite end of the scale, so to speak, consultant-led services are and will continue to be based in Halifax.
“There are concerns around recruitment and retention of midwives and other staff – again this is a recurrent theme and we do appreciate the difficulties – which impinge directly on Huddersfield services, although a similar picture applies in much of the country.”
He continued to say that CHFT had “voiced an aspiration to open the Huddersfield birthing facilities in summer 2024 but could not give a firm assurance that this would be met”.
Coun Armer added that he hoped a meeting with the Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust (MYHT) – the trust responsible for Dewsbury – could be arranged to discuss the future of its maternity services.