THERE has been a chorus of condemnation after NHS chiefs revealed that it has been decided to close the midwife led maternity unit at Ludlow Hospital.

It follows an announcement that the unit that has been closed during the summer because of ‘staff shortages’ will reopen in January.

What is not clear if this will now happen with it closing again and for the last time after a few months.

Health bosses say that the decision is in the best interest of the welfare of mothers and babies.

There is a proposal to create ‘maternity’ hubs to provide other forms of pre-natal and anti-natal care.

Under the proposed model, women would be able to give birth at the Consultant-led unit at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and at the alongside Midwife Led Unit, which is also on the hospital site, as well as a freestanding Midwife Led Unit in Shrewsbury and at home.

Community postnatal care would also be available consistently across the county through the maternity hubs.

This would include somewhere for women and their families to reflect on the birth as well as get support with emotional wellbeing and mental health.

There would also be advice with feeding as well as support with confidence building and bonding.

In addition to the maternity hubs, there would be a team of community midwives and women’s support assistants who would be available 24/7 to offer advice and support for women during pregnancy and after the baby is born.

“This proposed new model improves services for women and staff by making the best use of resources in line with what women and their families want and need,” said Dr Jess Sokollov of the Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

“We’ve listened to what local mums, staff and others with an interest in midwife led units think about the current midwifery led services and have directly used their ideas raised during the co-design workshops in pulling the proposed new service model together.”

But there has been chorus of protest against the move.

“The whole consultation over the future of rural maternity units has been a charade,” said Tracey Huffer, a practicing nurse and Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East.

Alison Hiles, a mother of three who was one of the leaders of a march through Ludlow a year ago said that the closure would be challen“We now know of four babies born in Ludlow without midwife support, two in the last few weeks,” she said.

“One of those four babies was mine. What makes them think it’s acceptable that my life and my child’s life were put at risk? What makes them think they can do this to other women? We’re not going to let this decision stand.”