CAMPAIGNERS say that they have discovered a ‘secret’ plan to close midwife led maternity units in town’s like Ludlow with tactics including deliberate staff shortages.

They claim that units are being closed on a routine basis so that women will not have the confidence to book births locally.

According to campaigners this is inspite of the fact that the Shropshire and Telford Health Care Trust has successfully recruited 20 new midwives.

“This is cynical games playing by SaTH,” said Alison Hiles of the save Ludlow Maternity Campaign.

“They close down the rural Maternity Led Units’ so women can’t use them.

“Then they announce that women aren’t using them. Then they use that as an excuse to close them down some more.

“It would be funny if this wasn’t so dangerous. I gave birth without midwife support because Ludlow Midwife Led Unit was closed and there was no time to get anywhere else – and it was terrifying. It still gives me nightmares.

She said there had been five incidents in which women had given birth in Ludlow without a midwife being present.

“That’s five babies born without a midwife, five mothers left scared and in pain, and ten lives put at risk,” she added.

“It’s a matter of time until someone dies.”

Gill George, Chair of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS is angry about what she says has been happening.

“We’ve been exchanging letters with Simon Wright over the last couple of weeks, in a desperate attempt to make the man listen to the women who use maternity services,” Ms George said.

The issue of maternity care for expectant mothers in Ludlow and the surrounding area has continued to rumble on despite attempts to get a resolution.

The midwife led unit at Ludlow Hospital is intended for women who are considered to have low risk pregnancies where problems or complications are not expected.

Pregnant women with more complex issues are referred to a specialist consultant led unit at Telford Hospital to which women are also sent if serious problems develop during a labour at a midwife led unit such as in Ludlow.

For ‘low risk’ mothers there is also the option of a home birth but the greater travel distances for midwives can cause problems.