Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group has announced that the maternity unit at Ealing Hospital will close on 1 July.
The CCG said the unit’s services would be “consolidated” across six hospital sites – all of which will have their facilities upgraded – across North West London as well as being delivered through more midwifery-led care in the community.
It said most woman giving birth at Hillingdon, West Middlesex, Northwick Park, Queen Charlotte’s and St Mary’s hospitals could still choose to have the majority of their antenatal and postnatal appointments at Ealing Hospital.
“There is a need to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of staff”
The changes were first proposed in 2013, as part of the “Shaping a Healthier Future” programme.
The CCG noted that the Ealing maternity unit was “currently a safe place for women to give birth”, but said quality requirements were changing and in future the hospital “would be unable to meet this new standard”.
The date for the transition of maternity services was confirmed at a meeting of CCG’s governing body on 20 May.
Dr Mohini Parmar, a GP and chair of Ealing CCG, said: “We also continue to work with midwives at Ealing Hospital to help support them in making this transition.”
London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said there would be no more births at the maternity unit after the 24 June and the maternity unit will close by 1 July.
“Midwives and clinicians are clear that these changes will help improve healthcare for women”
All women booked to give birth at Ealing Hospital will receive a letter in “the next day or two, explaining what this will mean for them”, said the trust.
The Royal College of Midwives criticised “repeated postponements” surrounding the decision, which had caused “a great deal of uncertainty” for patients and midwives.
RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said: “This decision at least gives them some clarity and certainty about what is happening.
“I would have liked to have seen some form of service remain at Ealing so that women could give birth there, but now the decision has been made it needs to be implemented effectively and speedily,” she said.
Professor Warwick said the CCG must now “concentrate on ensuring that there is sufficient capacity at other hospitals in the area to accept and deliver high quality care to women and their babies”.
“I do welcome the commitment from the CCG to more home births but there is a need to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of staff to make it a realistic choice for women,” she added.