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Gloucestershire Business News

Cheltenham maternity unit to remain closed

Staff shortages have forced Cheltenham General Hospital's maternity unit to remain closed.

The Aveta Birthing Unit will be shut until at least the autumn due to "extreme staffing pressures in midwifery".

Health chiefs said the temporary closure, which began in April, has been extended to ensure services remain safe.

Professor Mark Pietroni, interim chief executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Staffing levels across our maternity services continue to be extremely challenging and a significant proportion of our midwives are absent either due to COVID-related or non-COVID sickness.

"We recognise that the Aveta Birthing Unit is a much loved and valued service which our patients and the public hold in high regard. However, it must be our priority to ensure a safe birthing experience for all service users and to do this, we need to redeploy our midwives to alternative locations to ensure we can continue to provide safe, one-to-one care."

Midwifery-led services will continue at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in the birth unit and delivery suite, at Stroud Maternity Unit and for home births.

Planned antenatal care will continue across Cheltenham and the rest of the trust area as usual.

Prof Pietroni said it knew some families would be disappointed by the news but it wanted to be open about the staffing challenges.

He added: "We acknowledge the disappointment felt by those who would have preferred this service and we would like to sincerely apologise to them."

He said the trust had a long-term commitment to the Cheltenham Unit and the closure would be reviewed in the autumn. It expects planned recruitment will allow the unit to re-open in October.

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