After a year-long campaign against their closure, NHS chiefs have elected to shut two midwife-led birthing centres in Derbyshire.

Darley Dale Birth Centre at Whitworth Hospital and its sister site in Buxton will shut at the start of July next year as part of cost-cutting measures by the health service.

The centres had offered an alternative to hospitals for pregnant women with low risk of birthing complications but had seen falling numbers from around 120 a year to just two at Darley Dale in October.

Jacque Gerard, the Royal College of Midwives director for England, said she was "disappointed" that NHS commissioners hadn't taken into account the cost-effectiveness of birth centres highlighted by the recent Birthplace study.

"Midwives are devastated at the loss of their local birth centres as women's choices for childbirth are reduced and they now have to access maternity services in a doctor-led Obstetric unit, where medical interventions are more likely, rather than a midwife-led unit," she added.

All of the directors of NHS Derbyshire voted in favour of the closures, with assistant director of commissioning Sally Savage saying that "because of the high cost and low usage of [these] birth centres, money could be better used elsewhere."

darleydaleCampaigners ultimately failed to save Darley Dale (picture: Matlock Hospitals League of Friends) 

Posted 20/12/2011 by richard.hook@pavpub.com