For the first time in over a year, babies will be born in Kirklees’ hospitals following an exciting update given by NHS bosses on Wednesday (November 22).
Aside from home births, no babies have been born across the whole of Kirklees for around 18 months. In Huddersfield, the length of time is much greater, with no birthing facilities being available at the infirmary for more than three years, but this could soon change.
A meeting of Kirklees Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Panel heard that a firm re-opening date has been set for Dewsbury’s Bronte Birth Centre as before April 1 next year. The Dewsbury centre closed its doors in May last year due to trouble in recruiting and retaining staff.
Now, the Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust – the trust that oversees Dewsbury’s birth centre – has almost fully recruited midwives for the posts and has created a new position of birth centre manager which has also been filled.
Huddersfield has not seen the same success in recruitment as of yet, but senior bosses are still optimistic that the centre can reopen next year. Huddersfield’s birth centre was temporarily suspended in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The site has been unable to re-open due to staffing pressures, with these lingering on.
For this reason, details around the re-opening of the centre at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary are less solid and hinging on the success of future recruitment. Despite this, bosses confirmed that Huddersfield’s birth centre could re-open from August 2024 at the earliest if efforts to recruit more midwives are successful. The trust is looking to take on graduate midwives in March.
However, when it comes to the plans for the birthing facility in Huddersfield, Chair of the panel, Cllr Bill Armer (Con, Kirkburton) was not convinced. He spoke of being repeatedly told that the centre would soon open, without this materialising, and told the meeting: “I think we have been very, very patient about this. It closed in 2020 so can we have some firm ideas please?”
In response, Chief Nurse at CHFT, Lindsay Rudge, said: “I think I’ve been clear and firm that we cannot open the birth centre due to our safe staffing position that we had a March intake, and I was clear about that in November.
“We will, if we recruit in March, move to a position of opening the birth centre. It’s not that we don’t want to, we are absolutely committed to when it is safe to do so and that’s why we’re looking at different models from the previous model when it was open and it was staffed over a 24/7 period to make sure that we can be responsive to the women that would wish to use that facility. We still do offer midwifery-led care.”
CHFT offers midwife-led care at Calderdale Royal Hospital meaning that some Kirklees women who have wanted to give birth in hospital have opted to give birth here. Other options in the vicinity include Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
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