Closure devastates Darley’s midwives

Tearful midwives said they found out they were losing their jobs at Darley Birth Centre on Facebook.

Staff were officially told the Darley Dale unit would be closing last Thursday but by then most had found out on Facebook or in the Mercury.

The decision was made at the NHS Derby City and NHS Derbyshire County Cluster Board meeting at 1pm on Wednesday, December 7.

Midwives and nurses spoke anonymously to the Mercury about the news – which will see the centre close on July 1 2012.

One said: “We have just been told and are all devastated. The staff are all in tears. Most found out on Facebook.”

Another colleague who could barely hold back the tears added: “I’ve worked here for such a long time. It’s just come as such a shock this morning and I feel so sorry for my younger colleagues.”

A midwife said: “I’m very, very upset by what has occurred. We’ve not had a lot of input in to what has gone on. It is going to be a big loss to the community.

“It is the end of an era for births within the Derbyshire Dales. There won’t be local births unless women opt for a home birth. Women won’t have that choice any more, which is against government advice.”

A spokesman for the PCT and Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said staff currently working at Darley Birth Centre will be supported and offered alternative roles.

Many who work there are on rotation; with midwives alternating between there, the Chesterfield Birth Centre and community midwifery services.

There are no current plans to reduce staffing levels of the Dales midwifery service.

He added: “The decision to close Darley Birth Centre will not prevent us from offering mums-to-be a choice for labour and birth, and we are confident that any increase in activity can be undertaken at Chesterfield Royal’s newly-refurbished Birth Centre, which offers four state-of-the art birthing pools and 12 en-suite birth rooms.

“All women who would have used Darley Birth Centre will have the option of going to one of the adjacent midwife-led birth centres in hospital or having a home birth.

“They will continue to receive vital antenatal and postnatal services in Derbyshire Dales, including breastfeeding support and midwife visits.”

Mercury Facebook friends have also criticised the decision to shut the unit.

Suzanne Judith Jackson said: “Oh how awful bless to all the midwives they was brill when I had my boys there.”

Mike Blair added: “The money saving is minimal but the impact is massive. Just wrong.”

Campaigners who have fought to save the unit say the only glimmer of hope for Darley now rests with Derbyshire County Council’s Improvement and Scrutiny Committee which has the option to refer the trust’s decision to the Secretary of State for Health.

If the committee did agree this at either a special meeting or their next committee date of January 1, Matlock Hospitals League of Friends, which has campaigned against the closure, said they would support the decision.