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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Babies born in Kirklees hospital for first time in two years but question mark hangs over Huddersfield

Dewsbury's Bronte Birth Centre has seen 19 babies born since it re-opened on 1 April

Babies have been born in a Kirklees hospital for the first time in almost two years.

Between 1 April 2024 – when Dewsbury’s Bronte Birth Centre re-opened its doors – and 31 May,  nineteen babies were born, a meeting of the Kirklees and Calderdale Joint Health Scrutiny Panel heard today (25 June).

The centre was hit with closure in May 2022 as a result of staff shortages. This meant that women living in Kirklees who wanted to give birth in hospital had to travel to Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax or Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

Now it’s back up and running, the centre is currently staffed by a midwife and maternity support worker, with an on-call community midwife. Director of Midwifery at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Dr Anne-Marie Henshaw, told the meeting that there is not enough activity at present to warrant bringing in more dedicated midwives but that this will continue to be reviewed.

While things are looking up in Dewsbury, the future of the Huddersfield centre remains less clear.

Services at Huddersfield’s Birth Centre were suspended in March 2020 as a “temporary” measure in response to Covid pressures. Four years later, the closure is lingering on due to difficulties around staffing.

A meeting in November last year heard that the earliest the Huddersfield facility could reopen was August this year but that this hinged on successful recruitment.

Chair of today’s meeting, Cllr Elizabeth Smaje (Con, Birstall and Birkenshaw), wanted to hear about the work being done in partnership between the Mid-Yorks Trust and the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) to determine whether there is a demand for a birth centre in Huddersfield again and whether there is enough staff at CHFT.

Dr Henshaw said: “While we are working in partnership, I don’t have a report from CHFT that gives definitive detail.

“The headlines are that their recruitment plans are continuing as planned when we look at the local maternity and neonatal system projected position that reflects the work that CHFT have been doing in terms of recruitment.

“I can’t give any information about CHFT plans to open a birth centre at Huddersfield. What I can say is, we have had meetings in Bronte Birth Centre where the Huddersfield team have met with us.

“We’ve been able to show them the estate and the environment, and as agreed, once we get to the end quarter we will start publicising the birth centre much more broadly than we have done up to date.”

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