WYCOMBE Hospital’s maternity unit will close tomorrow for three months because of a staff shortage.

As previously reported in The Bucks Free Press, the Wycombe Birth Centre will close while midwives are trained.

The hospital lost doctor-led births in October, leaving only the midwife-led centre.

Mums will have to go to other hospitals including Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury.

Mums are told not to go to Wycombe if they are in labour and call the Aylesbury labour ward or 999 in an emergency.

Bosses have said it could close if women do not use it more, and have been short of staff, which have to work at Stoke Mandeville Hospitals, Aylesbury too.

A statement from Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The decision to temporarily close the unit was made by clinical leaders at [the trust] due to extreme staff shortages identified over the summer period.”

Audrey Warren, acting head of midwifery said, “After looking at a number of options, it was agreed that the safest and least disruptive way to ensure we continue to deliver high quality care to our patients was to temporarily close the Wycombe birth centre.

“Our community midwives in the Wycombe area have spoken to the six families affected by the closure and continue to discuss the options with expectant mothers who are due to give birth over this period.

“We can still offer them a midwife led service at the Aylesbury birth centre and our home birth service will also continue”.

The trust said the centre is planned to re-open in November ‘at the latest’ when 17 midwives are in their roles.

Mrs Warren said: “We are fully committed to reopening the Wycombe Birth Centre and are looking at ways to attract more expectant mothers.

“The centre is an excellent facility for women who are planning a natural birth and want an environment that resembles the home as much as possible, but with the reassurance that they are in a healthcare setting with expert midwives on hand to help deliver their baby”.

The move has led to concerns about the future of the unit and the hospital.

Wycombe lost serious A&E trauma case to Stoke in 2005 and this week a senior doctor said only of the hospitals should have stroke care.

Unison spokesman Steve Bell said earlier this month: “We read in the press every day about public sector cuts and this may be the start of it in Bucks.

“If this unit is shut it will place greater pressure on the remaining services and staff. Our staff are already working at full capacity and have little reserves left.”

He said: “This is the thin end of the wedge and we are waiting to see how management are preparing to make the savings required by the Government.”