STAFF sickness has been blamed for the closure twice within days of the midwifery led unit at Ludlow Hospital.

The overnight service at the unit was suspended on Friday and again on Sunday

Women booked to give birth at the unit who went into labour during the temporary suspension of services were offered a birth at another Midwife Led Unit or the Consultant-Led Unit at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford.

The suspension of services was due to short-term staff sickness.

Women affected were contacted by the NHS and advised of the alternatives that were available.

Sarah Jamieson, Head of Midwifery at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust apologised for the temporary closure that was due to staff sickness.

The unit was closed last summer but reopened at the beginning of January.

However, it will close later this year for live births but will continue to provide other maternity services.

The unit has been the subject of a lengthy campaign in Ludlow to secure its future.

This included a demonstration march through the town at the end of 2016 and a series of meetings last year to try to get a commitment to keeping the unit open.

It caters for births that are considered to be low risk with expectant mothers where cases are judged to be more problematic are attended to at the consultant led unit.

NHS bosses have been contending with a shortage of midwives that has been compounded by periodic high levels of absenteeism as a result of sickness.

The NHS says that its priority always has to be the health and safety of mother and baby and this involves making sure that the consultant led unit is always properly staffed.

Women with ‘low ris’k pregnancies also have the option of giving birth at home if the Midwife Led Unit is not available and they do not want to travel in order to have their baby in hospital.