Maternity unit at King George Hospital to close next week

King George Hospital's labour unit has been under threat of closure for years

King George Hospital's labour unit has been under threat of closure for years - Credit: Archant

The labour ward at King George Hospital will close in a matter of days, after health planners wielded the axe on it this afternoon.

Maternity capacity at Romford’s Queen’s Hospital has already been increased due to the changes.

King George’s maternity unit was first earmarked for closure in late 2009.

But in 2011, then secretary of state for health Andrew Lansley said closure could not happen until certain tests were passed.

Most of those related to failings at the maternity unit in Queen’s Hospital, Rom Valley Way.

But after a two-day visit to the unit in December, the Care Quality Commission found it met all standards including care and welfare; safety, availability and suitability of equipment; and staffing

The board of NHS North East London and the City (NELC) today made the final decision to stop all births at the hospital, at meeting in Ilford.

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The closure means women will give birth at surrounding hospitals, including Queen’s.

The board of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust approved the plans last night.

Alwen Williams, chief executive of NHS North East London and the City, said: “We are making changes to maternity services so that all local women get the safe, high-quality service they deserve at all local hospitals.

“We have put care at the heart of these changes and we have only made the decision to move forward with the change to maternity services at King George Hospital once local clinicians and the external experts have confirmed that it is safe to do so.”

Dr Atul Aggarwal, chair of Havering clinical commissioning group, said: “This decision should help ensure that no maternity unit is ever too busy to provide top-quality care to women and babies.

”In the past few months we’ve seen the opening of the Barking Birthing Centre and the Queen’s Birth Centre, providing more choice of birth setting for women with low-risk pregnancies.

“We have also increased the number of babies that can be born at Newham and Homerton hospitals. Further expansion of Whipps Cross and the Royal London will continue to provide more capacity in the future.”

The NHS will produce a guide to help people understand changes to maternity services which will be available from GP surgeries from mid-March.

What do you think of the plans? Leave your comments below or join the conversation on the Romford Recorder Facebook page.