The news will give mums and campaigners some comfort following the approval of proposals to consolidate maternity services in the city as part of a £450million overhaul of hospitals in Leicestershire and Rutland.
The local health authority also said today (Thursday) that there are plans to set up a midwifery support hub at St Mary’s Birth Centre after it is closed for births.
The decision to relocate existing services from the Melton baby unit to a new midwifery-led service at the Leicester General was taken because the authority feel the current set-up is no longer viable because not enough mums are using it and a city site would be accessible to more women in the counties.
In terms of the timeline for the future of the town birth centre, a spokeswoman for the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) told the Melton Times this afternoon: “Services at St Mary’s will continue until the new birth centre at the Leicester General Hospital is ready to open.
“While the timelines remain subject to change, the opening of the new unit at the Leicester General Hospital is anticipated for 2025/26.
“In the meantime, women who are interested in birthing at St Mary’s can speak to their midwife or call the unit on 01664 854854 for more information regarding their services.”
As part of the changes in maternity services, an expanded team of midwives will provide continuity of care throughout pregnancy and give post-natal and breastfeeding support in the community and in people’s own homes in Leicestershire and Rutland.
The local home birth teams will also promote their services widely for women who do not want to go to hospitals to have their babies.
The CCGs spokeswoman added: “We will ensure that continuity of care and support continues to be available for women in Melton and surrounding areas for home births and care before and after the baby is born, including support with breastfeeding.
“These services will be provided in the community or in people’s homes.
“We currently use the main hospital building in Melton to provide ante-natal clinics and hopefully in future, we will be able to secure some of the space at St Mary’s as a midwifery hub in the area.”
The overhaul of health services represents the biggest investment in Leicester hospitals for half-a-century.
The Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI) will host a new state-of-the-art maternity hospital, also providing a midwife-led birth centre alongside the obstetric unit.
The region’s first dedicated children’s hospital will also be sited at the LRI.
All outpatient services will be moved from the LRI and Leicester General to a new purpose-built centre at Glenfield Hospital.
Building work is not expected to start until March 2023 with the relocation of St Mary’s Birth Centre services being one of the later developments in the phased construction programme.
Go to www.leicestermaternity.nhs.uk/maternity-services/where-are-we/st-marys-birth-centre/ to find out more about the Melton baby unit and the services it provides.