The future of Scarborough Hospital’s £1 million midwife-led unit is uncertain after hospital bosses confirmed that it is under scrutiny.
The announcement comes following speculation, including an online petition asking people to support the unit, which opened in September 2010.
Mums-to-be have raised concerns that the unit, which offers low intervention births including water births, could be under threat of closure.
Patrick Crowley, chief executive of York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said he “cannot at this stage guarantee the future of any service or facility”.
He explained: “Some of the concerns raised about the closure of Scarborough’s MLU come from our proposal to temporarily close the facility to allow upgrades to the maternity operating theatres.
“During this time, births will take place in the adjacent maternity unit.
“However, as a whole organisation we are facing both clinical and financial challenges as a result of wider, well-publicised NHS issues. Like all public services we have been faced with scrutinising every single service we manage and I have spoken to staff openly about this. All services must pass the test of being both clinically and financially viable which means safe and affordable.
“The North Yorkshire review earlier this year reaffirmed that maternity services would stay in Scarborough, and this has been further confirmed by the local clinical commissioning group.
“In Scarborough there are two places within the hospital where women can choose to give birth, the labour ward and the MLU. In York, our maternity services are delivered by a single team of consultants and midwives. This means that women in York who are deemed to be ‘low risk’ can have a midwifery-led birth, but it is not delivered in a separate unit.
“As we move forward we must examine every single service, including the MLU. I cannot at this stage guarantee the future of any service or facility, it would be dishonest to say otherwise. However, I can confirm that women will continue to be able to make choices about the type of maternity care they can receive at both Scarborough and York Hospitals.”