No call on maternity unit

A public consultation on the future of the maternity unit in Berwick is set to be launched ahead of a decision between two future options.

It follows a meeting of the NHS North of Tyne joint board on Tuesday night, where a decision on the two options had been expected.

Berwick Maternity Unit (BMU) has been closed for births and postnatal care since August 1 following ‘a serious incident which had compounded concerns that the trust already had about the service due to the decreasing number of women (13 over a 12-month period) delivering their babies at the unit’.

The first option would see the service from before the suspension resume, with a 24-hour, fully-staffed unit, while option two would set up a 24/7 on-call midwifery-led service for low-risk women to give birth either at home or at the unit.

The unit would not be open 24/7 but would be open when an expectant mother calls and says she is in labour.

In the meantime, the unit will remain closed until April.

At the end of last month, Tweedmouth woman Louise McCulloch gave birth in an ambulance on its way to Wansbeck in the car park at Hillcrest Maternity Unit in Alnwick.

The 31-year-old said it was a situation she had been dreading since the BMU closed its doors for births in August.