Some 44 percent of hospital trusts responding to Freedom of Information (FoI) requests said they had turned away pregnant women due to lack of resources. And the crisis appears to be intensifying.
Across England, hospitals said they had temporarily closed their maternity wards to new admissions 382 times last year. The figures for 2015 and 2014 were 375 and 225.
The Labour Party, which submitted the FoI requests, said lack of beds and staff were the main reasons. Some 96 trusts responded to the requests—and 42 said they had closed their doors at least once in 2016.
Women face a postcode lottery in terms of the care they can expect to receive. For instance, the maternity unit at Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust closed 30 times in 2016. It said there was “insufficient midwifery staffing for workload”.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth denounced the “devastating impact which Tory underfunding is having”. He said it was “shameful” that pregnant women were being turned away because of shortages of staff, beds and cots.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said it was “no surprise” that services are under such pressure and that lack of resources compromised safety.
There is a shortage of around 3,500 full time midwives across England. Yet the Tories want the NHS to make more “savings”.