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Maternity Services

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 14 June 2022

NHS England is making £127 million of investment in maternity systems in the next year to go specifically towards the workforce. This is on top of the £95 million already promised for the recruitment of 1,200 midwives and 100 more consultant obstetricians.

South Tyneside District Hospital’s maternity unit was award winning. In 2019, despite widespread opposition, it changed to a midwife-led birthing centre. It has since been closed, since January. Recently, a whistleblower explained that midwives and expectant mums are being kept in the dark about the future of the unit, staffing levels and bed capacity across the trust. These changes are a direct result of this Government’s forced cuts, so what is the Minister going to do to make sure that babies can be born in south Tyneside?

I have just been very clear that we are investing about £200 million in that workforce. In the hon. Lady’s area, there were staffing pressures during the omicron variant, with high levels of staff sickness, which meant that South Tyneside District Hospital had to make that difficult decision. My understanding is that those staffing numbers are much better, particularly for sickness absence. If she is struggling to find out from the trust when it hopes to reopen the unit, I am very happy to meet her and members of the trust.