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Labour blasts government over maternity ward closures

Labour blasts government over maternity ward closures

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Labour has renewed its attack on government cuts after new figures suggested more than 40% of maternity wards in England were forced to close at least once last year.

Some 42 of 96 trusts said they had temporarily closed their doors to expectant mothers on a total of 382 occasions - usually due to a lack of staff and beds.

But the Government insisted it was “misleading” to suggest closures were forced by staff shortages.

The number of closure incidents has risen from 375 in 2015 and 225 in 2014, according to figures obtained by Labour through Freedom of Information.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "These findings show the devastating impact which Tory underfunding is having for mothers and children across the country.

"The uncertainty for so many women just when they need the NHS most is unthinkable."

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "Temporary closures in NHS maternity units are well rehearsed safety measures, which we expect trusts to use to safely manage peaks in admissions...

"To use these figures as an indication of safe staffing issues, particularly when a number of them could have been for a matter of hours, is misleading because maternity services are unable to plan the exact time and place of birth for all women in their care."

The Government added that there are 2,000 more midwives currently working than there were in 2010, and 6,500 currently in training.

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