No more children to be born at King George Hospital from next Monday
- Credit: Archant
No more children will be born at King George Hospital from Monday next week.
The board of NHS North East London and the City (NELC) made the final decision to close the labour ward at the hospital in Barley Lane, Goodmayes.
It has been under threat for years but the axe paused in 2011 when then health secretary Andrew Lansley said it could not be closed until the “right measures” were put in place.
Board members today decided that Queen’s Hospital, in Romford, and surrounding facilities in Waltham Forest, Newham and Barking were ready for the transfer.
Speaking at the meeting at Becketts House, Ilford Hill, Redbridge on Thursday clinical director Dr Sarah Hayes said that capacity and quality concerns had been addressed at Queen’s Hospital.
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She revealed that births at King George Hospital had been reduced accordingly from 150 in October to just 48 in February.
Helen Brown, director of transitional change, said the decision to close the labour unit was approved “in principle in 2010” and steadily implemented.
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She added: “The decision we are having to make is not about whether to make changes but about the safety of making them.”
One board member pointed out that NELC’s own report mentioned “operational risks” in the transfer, which included women turning up unannounced in labour at King George.
But Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust director of midwifery Wendy Matthews said risks had been “ironed out” and that accident and emergency were trained to handle unexpected births.
The board’s unanimous approval was the last stage in the process of closing the King George labour ward after BHRUT’s board rubberstamped the plans last night.
The last public consultation on maternity changes took place in 2010.
The closure means women will give birth at surrounding hospitals, leaving antenatal clinics, scans and parenting education at King George.
Meanwhile, the planned closure of King George Hospital’s A&E has been put on ice while health chiefs try to allow for the expected increase in demand at neighbouring A&E units the ward’s axing will bring.