Closed Doors

ISSN 0256-5004 (Print)

AIMS Journal, 2008, Vol 20 No 3

Recently the national newspapers carried the story of a woman who was sent home in labour, and when she tried to return to give birth her labour progressed so quickly that her baby was born in a car park. This situation is not that uncommon, and midwives are frequently called to attend 'born before arrival' births. What is worrying, however, is the current situation where maternity units have no staff available, so they close their doors to labouring women and either send them home or more often to an alternative unit many miles away.

AIMS is hearing that this is happening more and more regularly and yet there seems to be little awareness. This is an issue of short-staffing which impacts on women and midwives. The one-mother-one-midwife campaign would make this situation a rarity, as would a dramatic increase in support for home birth. Under situations where a unit is too short of staff to care for any more women they are probably already under such strain that they are being forced to compromise the safety of the women they are already caring for.

Anyone who has thoughts on the situation, or is concerned about units closing their doors can contact chair@aims.org.uk.


AIMS supports all maternity service users to navigate the system as it exists, and campaigns for a system which truly meets the needs of all. AIMS does not give medical advice, but instead we focus on helping women to find the information that they need to make informed decisions about what is right for them, and support them to have their decisions respected by their health care providers. The AIMS Helpline volunteers will be happy to provide further information and support. Please email helpline@aims.org.uk or ring 0300 365 0663.

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