Cossham Birth Centre temporary closure

Monday, 22 October 2018

Cossham Birth Centre is temporarily diverting women in labour to the midwife-led unit at Southmead Hospital so that North Bristol NHS Trust can keep its maternity services running safely.

This decision has been taken because of an unprecedented high number of women needing induction of labour at Southmead Maternity Unit. Combined with staff vacancies, it has required us to maximise our midwifery workforce on one site to maintain the safety of all women and babies in our care.

To solve this problem, six extra maternity beds have already been opened at Southmead and extra midwives are now being recruited.

We are currently reviewing how long this temporary partial closure will need to be in place for and will make a final decision by the end of this week.

North Bristol NHS Trust has an average of 6,300 births a year, which includes approximately 350 births at Cossham Birth Centre and approximately 700 births at Mendip Birth Centre at Southmead Hospital.

Because of this temporary closure, all women due to give birth in the next few weeks at Cossham Birth Centre are currently being contacted to make them aware of this change. All calls to Cossham Birth Centre from women in labour are being diverted to Mendip Birth Centre.

Cossham Birth Centre midwives have temporarily joined the Mendip Birth Centre team and women booked with the preference to deliver at Cossham will continue to have the option of a midwifery-led birth environment at Mendip Birth Centre at Southmead, which has three birthing suites, each with a pool.

Home birth services will continue to be available on a case by case basis. All antenatal and postnatal clinics at Cossham are unaffected and running as normal.

Interim Director of Nursing at North Bristol NHS Trust, Helen Blanchard, said:
“Recent national changes to the way the NHS cares for women with identified risks during pregnancy have increased demand for complex and specialist care.

“To ensure we can run the safest maternity service possible, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close Cossham Birth Centre until we have recruited enough additional midwives.

“We recognise that any changes to a woman’s pre-planned maternity care, and the choice they have made about where to have their baby, can be disappointing.

“However, our absolute priority must be the overall safety of all women and babies in our care.

“We will reopen Cossham Birth Centre as soon as possible.”

Due to the introduction of new national maternity policy to reduce stillbirths, North Bristol NHS Trust’s obstetric services have been extremely busy in recent months. Like many other maternity units across the country, this policy has led to a significant increase in women being medically induced, requiring more complex and specialist care.

To ease the pressure, on 1st October six more maternity beds were opened at our Southmead site. We are currently in the process of recruiting additional midwives, including filling current vacancies, which will lead to a total increase in our permanent midwifery workforce of more than 24 full time midwives. 

North Bristol NHS Trust has among the best neonatal outcomes in the country.

For more information members of the public can contact