Leeds maternity hospitals merger plan

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MATERNITY services in Leeds could all move to one hospital, the YEP can reveal.

Under options being considered by health bosses, care for pregnant women and newborn babies could be centralised at Leeds General Infirmary or St James’s Hospital.

There are 10,000 births annually in Leeds and that figure is rising. Today concerns were raised over access and parking if the services were moved to LGI.

Currently expectant mums can give birth at both hospitals and each also has a neonatal unit for sick infants.

But LGI is the home to the Leeds Children’s Hospital, created last year to bring all in-patient beds for youngsters together. It would be the most likely home for centralised maternity services.

A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The clinical director and the head of midwifery here have been doing some initial work looking at options for whether there would be benefits for the service to be centralised in one location.

“We would stress this work is in the very early stages and no such proposals have yet been drawn up.

“Should these develop into a plan this would be fully debated by the Trust Board in due course.”

He added that the discussions came after other services were brought together on single sites, improving patient care and making the best use of facilities and the expertise of staff.

“Last year, for example, children’s wards from St James’s were brought together with those at LGI in much improved accommodation at the newly-created Leeds Children’s Hospital - a move which has been warmly welcomed by parents and clinicians alike,” the spokesman said.

The £35m move to centralise children’s services at LGI were unveiled in 2007 after proposals to build a new dedicated children’s and maternity hospital for Leeds were shelved.

All care for elderly people has also been brought together at St James’s Hospital.

The hospitals combined have 280 full-time equivalent midwife posts.

One midwife, who asked to remain anonymous, told the YEP that she understood that hospital bosses were looking at moving the maternity services at St James’s to LGI.

She said that raised concerns over access, especially for people living in the east of the city, and parking for patients.

“I think centralising services in Leeds is going to lead to more unexpected home births.

“Trying to get to the centre of Leeds in rush hour is not the easiest thing in the world. I think it’s going to cause a lot more consternation about ladies getting into hospital.

“I think it’s going to have a massive impact on the public and I know certainly the initial reaction was a lot of staff would leave.”

However she welcomed the possibility that a midwife-led maternity unit might be created, as currently Leeds does not have one.

The hospitals trust spokesman said no details had yet been considered.

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