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Maternity services at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

11 February 2009

Women and their families may have seen recent media coverage about the temporary closures of maternity units at NHS hospitals due to a shortage of staff or beds—Chelsea and Westminster Hospital was mentioned.

Women and their families may have seen recent media coverage about the temporary closures of maternity units at NHS hospitals due to a shortage of staff or beds—Chelsea and Westminster Hospital was mentioned.

We would like to reassure women who are due to have their baby at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital that closure of our maternity unit is an extremely rare event.

  • Only 7 out of nearly 4,800 women who were due to give birth at Chelsea and Westminster in 2008 were unable to do so because of temporary closures
  • There were only 4 temporary closures of the maternity unit in 2008
  • There have been no temporary closures since July 2008

In contrast, according to the recent media coverage, many other hospital maternity units were forced to turn away women on a more regular basis in 2008—Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust had 97 closures, Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust had 91 closures and East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust had 75 closures.

The safety of women and their babies is our first priority and so the decision to close our maternity unit to new admissions is only ever taken when all alternatives have been fully explored and with the agreement of the Consultant Obstetrician, Head of Midwifery and Supervisor of Midwives. Any closure is always for the minimum of time—typically just a few hours—only.

If someone arrives at the hospital in labour during a closure period, she will always be cared for here unless it is safer for her to be transferred with a midwife escort to an alternative hospital.

The maternity unit at Chelsea and Westminster is an increasingly popular choice for women when they are choosing where to have their baby:

  • 86% of women rate their care during labour and birth as ‘Excellent’, ‘Very good’ or ‘Good’—Healthcare Commission maternity review 2008
  • We are one of the safest hospitals for women to have a baby—Confidential Enquiry into Maternal & Child Health 2008
  • Our hygiene standards are rated ‘Excellent’ by the National Patient Safety Agency—Patient Environment Action Team assessment 2008
  • Our infection rates are almost half the national average—Hospital Infection Society