Expectant mothers turned away from Darlington maternity services on 26 occasions last year

The number of times a North-East maternity unit was forced to temporarily close its doors to expectant mothers rose by almost 50 per cent last year, new figures revealed yesterday.

Darlington Memorial Hospital closed its maternity wards to new arrivals 26 times in 2016 – up from 14 the year before – according to data published by the Labour Party.

Last night a party spokesman claimed the figures were the result of understaffed and under pressure maternity units, and showed the “devastating impact of Tory underfunding”.

But County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT), which runs the Darlington hospital, said the decision to stop admitting expectant mothers was always done in their best interests.

Across the country maternity wards were affected on 382 occasions last year, compared to 375 times in 2015 and 225 occasions in 2014, according to data provided by 42 trusts which responded to a Freedom of Information request from Labour.

At Darlington, temporary closures happened twice in 2014, 14 times the following year and 26 times in 2016.

However, at the University Hospital of North Durham, also run by CDDFT, the year-on-year change went from 14 in 2014, to 15 in 2015 and back down to 14 last year.

Article from The Northern Echo, 9 August 2017