New maternity unit opens to take pressure off Romford hospital
PUBLISHED: 09:00 05 June 2012
A new maternity unit which could take some of the pressure off of Romford’s Queen’s Hospital has now opened.
The birthing unit at Barking Community Hospital will handle up to 600 deliveries a year, and up to four at any one time.
The news will come as a relief for many, including health campaigners who were upset about the delay to the opening of the maternity department when the Upney Lane hospital’s £12 million upgrade was completed last year.
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS trust (BHRUT), which runs Queen’s and King George, in Goodmayes, is currently under investigation by the health watchdog over failings in its maternity wards, among other departments.
Dr Waseem Mohi, chair of the Barking and Dagenham clinical commissioning group, said: “There are two main reasons for us setting up this new unit. One is to have a local community maternity service and the other thing was there have been some concerns with BHRUT.
“We are diverting a lot of the maternity care into Barking Community Hospital now to take the extra load.”
About 3,700 Barking and Dagenham women give birth each year, with more than 90 per cent of the babies delivered at BHRUT hospitals.
The figure is expected to drop as more women are referred to the new unit.
The centre, which is being run by staff from Newham University Hospital, is currently seeing women who are about 12 weeks pregnant and the first births are expected in the autumn.
Because the unit is midwife-led, it caters only for low-risk pregnancies.
There are three delivery rooms – two with birthing pools – and a fourth room mostly for post-natal care that could also be used as a delivery room if needed.
Dr Mohi said medics looked at midwife-led birthing sites that are “running excellently” before giving the new centre the green light.
Births were taking place at the former Upney Hospital, which the new building has replaced, until the early 1990s.