Maternity unit will close after only 17 babies in 12 months

Maternity unit will close after only 17 babies in 12 months

A decision to close a maternity unit in Smethwick will not go out to public consultation after councillors heard only 17 babies were born there in the past year.

Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG Trust has taken the decision to shut the Halcyon Birth Centre after it failed to meet an annual target of 400 births.

The closure comes only six years after the unit was set up.

The decision was approved this week by councillors on Sandwell Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Board who decided against putting the issue out to public consultation.

Andy Williams, accounting officer for Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, explaining the Halcyon was initially expected to handle 400 births each year said pregnant women had overwhelmingly chosen to have their babies at the Serenity Unit at City Hospital because of the proximate of specialist support services on the same site.



Halcyon Birth Centre in  Smethwick will close without consultation.

Saying the trust wanted to avoid a ‘faux’ consultation process when there was only one real choice, he added: “I think people have already made a choice and it’s clear what those choices are.”

Councillors were told the unit costs £200,000 a year to run and the CCG was keen to see how it could use the building on Nine Leasowes, Smethwick, to support other healthcare services in the borough.

Mr Williams said the main reason for closure was not financial, saying if the council wanted to continue the service it could be done, but he added: “I honestly can’t recommend that to you because it would a monumental waste of public money.”

He went on to say: “It’s a very difficult case to say that we should keep this almost brand new building on standby just in case when we know that women are making positive choices to seek birth experiences elsewhere.

“It is very difficult to sustain that when we have the opportunity to do better things with that building.”

Cllr Susan Downing, moving the council should not request a consultation, said: “It’s a very difficult position and I’m sorry we are going to lose this unit but in the financial restrictions we have got lately, I can’t see it is justified that a further consultation takes place.”

The unit is now expected to close in October.

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