Mum’s anguish over birthing centre closure

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A heavily pregnant mum from Eastbourne who had opted to give birth at the Crowborough Birthing Centre has spoken of her distress after learning of its temporary closure.

Chantell Jenkins, who was due to give birth at the weekend, had chosen to give birth at the facility. She said some of her friends had also chosen to give birth at the centre and were due around the same time as her and when it actually closed for four days due to staff shortages at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings.

Back in May changes at the DGH meant it became a midwifery-led maternity unit and saw consultant-led care centralised at Hastings.

The Crowborough Birthing Centre closed so staff could help out at Hastings because of staff shortages on the maternity unit there.

Mrs Jenkins said she and her friends had chosen Crowborough mainly because in an emergency the transfer to Pembury is a shorter journey than if you were at Eastbourne and needed to go to Hastings. She added, “Obviously it’s very distressing now knowing that we may not be able to give birth where we have chosen especially if this is going to happen frequently.

“This of course is all happening due to the DGH being downgraded and now they can’t cope with the demand!

“This is all yet again demonstrates the ridiculousness of downgrading the DGH.”

A spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said the staff shortages were as a result of sickness, unavailability of bank staff due to school holidays and annual leave. They said on average four women a week give birth at Crowborough, adding, “We have recently recruited six newly qualified midwives who are waiting for their registration to come through before starting work, and we are currently out to advert to recruit a further four midwives.”