BIRTHS are being temporarily relocated from Macclesfield District General Hospital to neighbouring maternity units as a safety measure to meet pressures relating to coronavirus and free up theatre staff.

The measure is necessary because East Cheshire NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, has a small numbers of anaesthetists who would be unable to provide cover both for maternity-related procedures such as emergency caesarian sections and an expected rise in patients being treated for COVID-19.

Any women due to give birth at the hospital from Wednesday, March 25 on will instead deliver at one of the partner trusts close to their home.

While the arrangement is in place midwives and other maternity staff will work at neighbouring birth centres or within alternate roles within the hospital to assist the trust’s response to COVID-19.

East Cheshire NHS Trust chief executive John Wilbraham said: “In light of an expected increase in COVID-19 cases we have taken the difficult decision to prioritise critical care staff for these patients, which regrettably means temporarily relocating births from Macclesfield Hospital from Wednesday, March 25 to ensure the safety of mothers and their babies.

“Trusts across the country have stopped routine elective activity, however we must take this additional step due to the small size of our critical care team, and without these measures we may have not have had enough anaesthetists to safely cover the expected additional COVID-19 inpatients.

“Our antenatal and post-natal care will continue at Macclesfield along with the delivery of community midwifery services, and we are working with neighbouring trusts to ensure women can birth safely at local hospitals nearby.

“Our midwives are in the process of contacting women due to give birth at Macclesfield over the next three weeks to explain what the change means for them.

“We have decided to temporarily suspend the births for six months, but should pressure reduce and allow us to return to normal operation this period can be reduced.

“I fully appreciate this will be a concern for local people, but would assure you this decision is taken in line with clinical concerns for patient safety for both COVID-19 patients and expectant mothers and their children.”

Women should have been contacted by their midwife, but if anyone has not or has any urgent queries or concerns, including relating to the onset of labour, the Labour Ward can be contacted at 01625 661140.