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NHS Maternity Units Were Forced To Close 287 Times Last Year

Almost half of maternity units at hospitals in England were closed to expectant mothers at least once during 2017, research by Labour has found, with the party blaming staff shortages and other resourcing problems.

Freedom of information (FoI) requests by Labour identified almost 300 occasions when maternity units were closed and expectant mothers sent elsewhere, with the most common reasons cited being a lack of capacity and staffing issues.

Labour sent FoI requests to all 135 hospital trusts in England, asking how many times their maternity units had been closed to new admissions during 2017, and to give the length of time and reason for any such closures. Of the 89 trusts that responded, 41 of those had experienced at least such closure last year – 46% of responses – and a slight increase on the equivalent figure for 2016.

In total, there was 287 occasions when maternity units were closed to expectant mothers, with 11 of the trusts saying they had been forced to close their doors more than 10 times during the year.

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