New births facility at Romford hospital set to open early next year

�More babies will be born in Havering early next year, after controversial plans to close down a nearby maternity unit were firmed up this week.

Sweeping changes to maternity services across north-east London mean that the unit at King George Hospital, in Goodmayes, will no longer carry out deliveries.

A new midwifery-led unit at Queen’s Hospital, in Rom Valley Way, Romford, is due to be completed in November and ready for births early next year, and there are “new planned services” at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel.

The plans have been in the pipeline for years, and were agreed – subject to certain tests being passed – by the then health secretary Andrew Lansley last October.

But a time frame of “early 2013” has now been given, providing the first indication of when the changes will take place.

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas said: “This decision will directly impact on many families and force them to look elsewhere for a place to give birth.

“This will inevitably be Queen’s Hospital, which may have seen recent improvements in its maternity services but is still not in a position to be taking on the workload of another maternity service.

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“I am extremely disappointed. We will continue to fight the service closures at King George Hospital and I hope to have your readers’ continued support on the campaign.”

Approval for the wider-ranging plans was given last week by the board of NHS North East London and the City (Nelc).

The end of births in Goodmayes will “enable the NHS locally to concentrate services for medium to high-risk deliveries on fewer sites”, according to Nelc.

Women in Ilford South will give birth at Queen’s, while women in Ilford North will have their babies at Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone.

Women in Barking and Waltham Forest will also be asked to give birth at alternative hospitals.