Ex­pec­tant moth­ers turned away

Flag­ship hos­pi­tal forced to close to new ad­mis­sions be­cause labour wards full

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE - HE­LEN MCARDLE HEALTH COR­RE­SPON­DENT

PREG­NANT women on the verge of giv­ing birth had to be turned away from an over­crowded ma­ter­nity unit in an un­prece­dented shut­down of the fa­cil­ity.

NHS Greater Glas­gow and Clyde has apol­o­gised af­ter a spike in ad­mis­sions and string of com­pli­cated child­births at the Queen El­iz­a­beth Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal (QEUH), Go­van, re­sulted in ex­pec­tant moth­ers be­ing sent to have their ba­bies else­where.

How­ever, it is un­der­stood the cri­sis comes amid trade union con­cerns over a ban on us­ing bank staff to cover week­end and evening over­time.

Be­fore yes­ter­day’s events a meet­ing had al­ready been sched­uled for next week be­tween Uni­son ac­tivists and lo­cal management to dis­cuss the prob­lem.

Matt McLaugh­lin, re­gional or­gan­iser for Uni­son in Glas­gow, said: “This lat­est is­sue would ap­pear to sup­port our con­tin­u­ing con­cerns with staffing lev­els across NHS Greater Glas­gow and Clyde, and you have to ques­tion the board’s pro­pos­als to close ma­ter­nity units in other com­mu­ni­ties at a time when, clearly, they don’t have enough staffing or the abil­ity to cope at the Queen El­iz­a­beth.”

Con­cerns have pre­vi­ously been raised af­ter fig­ures showed a 27 per cent cut in ma­ter­nity beds across the health board be­tween 2012 and 2015.

NHS bosses moved to re­duce bed numbers in 2010 be­cause “bed oc­cu­pancy was low at the time”.

Yes­ter­day’s de­ci­sion to halt ad­mis­sions comes amid warn­ings that pro­pos­als to axe two com­mu­nity ma­ter­nity units at the Vale of Leven Hos­pi­tal in Alexan­dria and In­ver­clyde Royal Hos­pi­tals will pile pres­sure on ex­ist­ing ser­vices.

Un­der the plans, which will have to be ap­proved by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, moth­ers would in­stead give birth at the Royal Alexan­dra in Pais­ley or Glas­gow’s Princess Royal Ma­ter­nity Hos­pi­tal and QEUH.

Ex­pec­tant moth­ers ar­riv­ing at the QEUH ma­ter­nity unit from early yes­ter­day morn­ing were forced to wait hours in ma­ter­nity wards be­cause all of the 12 labour rooms and both op­er­at­ing the­atres were full. In some cases pa­tients were hav­ing con­trac­tions min­utes apart on a packed ma­ter­nity ward, while still wait­ing to be trans­ferred to a labour bed.

By lunchtime, oth­ers were be­ing turned away and sent to the Royal Alexan­dra Hos­pi­tal and the Princess Royal Ma­ter­nity as the ma­ter­nity wards also ran out of beds.

Among the pa­tients sent else­where was a woman ar­riv­ing for a planned Cae­sarean sec­tion who had al­ready been fast­ing for 24 hours.

It is the first time since the unit com­pleted a £28 mil­lion re­vamp in De­cem­ber 2009 that it has been forced to close to new ad­mis­sions.

The health boards said no pa­tients were en­dan­gered and the unit re-opened at about 5pm.

There has been an ex­cep­tional rise in ba­bies be­ing de­liv­ered at the QEUH, it is un­der­stood.

Mary Ross-Davie, di­rec­tor of the Royal Col­lege of Mid­wives Scot­land, stressed the de­ci­sion to close the unit was right to “put pa­tient safety first”.

She added: “We are aware of re­cent pres­sures. There seems to have been a rise in the num­ber of births at the QEUH in re­cent months. We’ve been rais­ing that lo­cally with management to make sure staffing lev­els match that level of ac­tiv­ity, so that the num­ber of staff on, the num­ber of mid­wives work­ing, are

al­ways safe.” She said it was un­clear what was driv­ing the spike in births.

A spokes­woman for NHSGGC said: “We have an ar­range­ment where we use our three ma­ter­ni­ties to man­age peaks in de­mand across NHS Greater Glas­gow and Clyde.

“The di­vert – to the nearby Royal Alexan­dra Hos­pi­tal and the Princess Royal Ma­ter­nity – was put in place due to a high num­ber of ad­mis­sions to the QEUH and a num­ber of women and ba­bies de­vel­op­ing com­pli­ca­tions.

“We ar­ranged for three women to be ad­mit­ted to other ma­ter­nity hos­pi­tals in our area and a fur­ther two women had their planned pro­ce­dures safely de­ferred for a mat­ter of hours. Pa­tient safety was main­tained at all times. We would like to apol­o­gise to any­one to whom this caused any dis­tress.”

The QEUH, which is based in Go­van, is built on the site of the for­mer South­ern Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal.

Due to its star-shaped de­sign, it was nick­named the “Death Star” on open­ing in April 2015.

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