Melton parents and residents will finally get their say on the future of the town’s St Mary’s Birth Centre early next year.
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) announced last November it was proposing to close the Thorpe Road service and centralise birthing clinics in Leicester.
The trust said Melton’s St Mary’s Birth Centre was not financially viable because only 170 babies were born there every year and it needed to be between 350 to 500 to make the service sustainable.
It suggested a public consultation would be held earlier this year but there have been no developments until now.
Elaine Broughton, head of midwifery for Leicester’s Hospitals, broke the silence to tell the Melton Times: “We hope to go out to formal consultation on these plans in Spring 2018.”
The proposals to close the birth centre are set out in the trust’s Local Maternity Transformational Plan.
If approved, it would result in Melton women having to travel to Leicester for a hospital birth, at an upgraded maternity department at Leicester Royal Infirmary or a mooted standalone midwifery birth centre, at the General.
Mrs Broughton added: “The new plan will give us the opportunity to improve facilities for women and their babies and ensure they get the very best start in life.
“Our aim is to work with local patients, families and communities to create an efficient and affordable service that meets the needs of our patients and continues to offer women choice.”
The news comes as the trust has launched its first ever dedicated home birth team for Leicestershire and Rutland. It is made up of 15 midwives, to assist women with low risk pregnancies.
UHL home birth team lead Annabelle Barker said: “The team will be able to provide more continuity because pregnant women will be seen by the same midwives.
“Women will have two midwives supporting them during their labour and in the post-natal period we continue to provide support in health, parenthood and feeding as the new family establishes before handing over to health visitors.”