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Birth centre reopens

PUBLISHED: 17:48 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:19 24 August 2010

by Jenny Engstrom An award-winning birth centre which closed down four months ago after running up a £900,000 deficit has reopened at a neighbouring hospital. Brent Birth Centre, a £3 million midwife-led unit which opened at Central Middl

by Jenny Engstrom

An award-winning birth centre which closed down four months ago after running up a £900,000 deficit has reopened at a neighbouring hospital.

Brent Birth Centre, a £3 million midwife-led unit which opened at Central Middlesex Hospital, in Park Royal, in 2004, was shut down in March following a lack of demand.

Critics said women were reluctant to have their babies at the stand-alone unit because there were no obstetricians at hand should there be any complications.

It reopened at Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow on July 1, following a three-month consultation.

Larisa-Florina Zama, 21, who lives in Edgware, was one of the first mothers to give birth at the new centre.

The mother-of-two gave birth to her 3.9kg baby girl Raysa last week.

Ms Zama said: "The staff and facilities have been excellent.

"I would like to say thank you to all the staff and the two midwives who looked after me. I was delighted to have been able to have a water birth and would recommend it to other women."

The new unit is the same size as the old centre, with six birthing rooms which all have their own bathrooms and two rooms with birthing pools.

It is based next to its maternity unit on the sixth floor.

None of the staff were made redundant following the closure and the trust is now hoping to lease out the old centre to another NHS provider.

Fiona Wise, chief executive of the North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said: "In its new location we hope that we can offer this midwifery led service to around 1,000 women across Brent and Harrow.

"In its first week, the unit has already delivered 10 babies which is a very positive start."

The opening of the new birth centre comes ahead of a comprehensive maternity review which places the trust in the top eight performing hospitals in London.

The report, which was first published by the Healthcare Commission in January, was released nationally last week together with a survey on mothers' and staff experiences.

The review, which gave the trust an average score of 2.8 out of five, ranking it as fair, was launched by the watchdog following a series of maternity deaths across the country, including ten deaths at Northwick Park between 2002 and 2005.

Despite improvements introduced by the trust, another three women died at the hospital last year.

The trust is currently undertaking a review into the deaths, which is due to be published in August.

jenny.engstrom@archant.co.uk


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