Video: 40+ maternity door closures. Govt: “it’s ok, they’ve had lots of practice”

mat unit

There are occasional moments when you wonder what surreal landscape exists in the mind of a Tory. It can be glimpsed through the policies they inflict on the rest of us, of course – but now and then a response or comment is so evidently out of tune, so bizarre a non-sequitur, that it can only come from a person or party utterly detached from the reality the rest of us have to live with.

Such is the case with the government’s response to the deeply worrying news that 42 out of 96 hospitals who responded to a Freedom of Information request by the Labour Party said they had had to close the doors of their maternity units to new admissions last year – on a total of 382 occasions.

An average of more than nine instances each in a year, with the closures of undisclosed length – and an increase of 70% in just two years.

There are 138 hospital trusts in England with a maternity unit, so only two-thirds of trusts responded to the survey. If all 138 have similar issues – and those who failed to respond might have done so to avoid publicising even worse – then there were over 1,250 occasions last year when maternity units had to close their doors because of lack of capacity and resources.

A Labour press release blamed staff shortages caused by government cuts for the crisis in maternity units and our wider NHS – and the government’s response has to be heard to be believed:

“Well-rehearsed“?! Even Joanna Gosling can barely keep the derision out of her voice.

“It’s ok – we have a shortage of over 40,000 nurses in this country, but don’t worry! It just means units have lots of practice at closing!”

At a hugely vulnerable and vital time, a woman and baby arriving for delivery only to find the maternity unit doors effectively barred by government cuts and facing a journey of miles to the nearest alternative, will find little comfort in “we’ve got our door-closing procedures down pat“.

This is not a recent phenomenon. Hospital closures and downgrades have been putting pressure on remaining units almost since the Tories entered Downing Street in 2010, in spite of their campaign promise to protect the NHS – and maternity units have been closing their doors up and down the country ever since.

It’s hard to imagine a government more distanced and detached from the concerns and well-being of ordinary people – and terrifying to think that they’ll almost certainly find a way to get there.

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  1. Hey Skwarkbox,

    Perhaps putting condoms on all Tory Party members will protect their mouthpiece from falling pregnant and birthing other bastard policies on behalf of Satan.

    It would certainly help free up the wards for the deserving and righteous.

    Namaste 🙂


  2. It’s all going neatly to plan just as Noam Chomsky put so eloquently in just a few words:

    “That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.”
    Noam Chomsky,

  3. Wonder if the doors were locked for jakey rees-mogg’s missus to issue their latest sprog.

    Oh, hang on…

  4. Oliver Letwin, he of the pamphlet ‘how to privatise everything’ and the ear of Margaret Thatcher predicted that within five years of a Tory majority in parliament the NHS would be privatised. He is the grandson whose grandfather escaped to England to avoid persecution, mind, his father quickly learned how to make big money (banking).

  5. The only acceptable number of pregnant mothers being turned away from maternity wards each year is zero.

    This is yet another example to add to the already far too long list of Conservative Party failures.

    The Conservatives are simply incapable of governing.

  6. Did you know that the govt. Has appointed ( not elected) quangos called CCGs to do their dirty work of closing hospitals and walkin centres. These COGs consist of Pharmicists, GPS who own part private hospital shares there are 20 on the panel ( one Labour member gets £12,000pa. The chair of these quangos gets £50,000 p.a. ) I attended a public meeting about closure of Walk- in centre in Bury and despite high attendance records and a huge petition + protests from the audience we ascertained from their mealy mouthed answers that the closure was a foregone conclusion to close the highly used centre

  7. It feels like 2009 and 2008 all over again.



    (Apologies for the “whataboutism”)

  8. Graham Hindson: Except, the RCM in 2009 gives the reason for closures as birth being unpredictable and “units experience a sudden rush”, and “we are in the midst of a baby boom with the birth rate at its highest since 1991”. One caused by a baby boom, the other caused by deliberate government cuts.


  10. Being closed to ‘normal’ births is disgraceful and unacceptable in our very rich country. However, there are many complications during pregnancy and childbirth that require specialist, life saving care.

    Those affected by tradgedy and those who’s babies may not have survived but for intensive care, have fund raised for all sorts of equipment for baby care units, and massively improved infant mortality rate.

    From a very personal perspective, a condition called placenta praevia, meant that at any time during both of my pregnancies, I could have haemorrhaged and died within minutes. I spent two months in hospital and was told that I couldn’t even go into the hospital grounds to play with my 14 month old toddler who was traumatised that her mummy had suddenly been taken away from her. This was because they would not get me to the operating theatre quickly enough to save my life . Even from the grassed area infront of the hospital!

    Luckily for me, that was in 2094 & 2096, so when the dreaded emergency hapened, I was rushed from the ward into theatre and I lived to tell the tale! My two lovely daughters were supported and cared for by my husband and myself, and this year & last achieved excellent degrees from top universities, and are now saddled with debt and ready to contribute to our country. A very different tale if their mummy had died in childbirth, and probably a much bigger cost to the system, as I don’t think my husband would have managed to hold his job down!

    Closure of maternity hospitals will result in multiple deaths of babies and women and must be fought against!


  11. This is nothing new. My son was born over 3 years ago…

    My partner was turned away from BOTH maternity units in Nottingham and almost gave birth to my son in the back of my mothers camper van on the way to Mansfield (1 hours drive away). She was also listed as having to go into surgery immediately after birth due to issues expelling the placenta (which happened mercifully at Mansfield).

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