Shropshire maternity consultation pushed back again
It is unlikely that a consultation about maternity service in Shropshire will begin this year, according to health bosses.
The public had been expected to be able to have their say about the plans to stop births taking place at three rural midwife-led units in Oswestry, Bridgnorth and Ludlow earlier this year.
However, the consultation still has not been signed off by NHS England, said Dr Julian Povey, the chairman of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Dr Povey said the process is complicated and requires the go-ahead from NHS England.
"Even if it does get approved, we wouldn't be able to start it until after the general election in December," he said.
"When it does get the go-ahead, it'll be open for a minimum of eight weeks and can be up to 12 weeks."
Under the proposals, women will be able to give birth at the consultant-led unit at Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, at the hospital’s neighbouring midwife-led unit, at a midwife-led unit at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital or at home.
A number of maternity ‘hubs’ would also be created to support women before and after birth.
Health bosses previously said more than 98 per cent of women were choosing to give birth away from the rural units.
Dr Povey added: "With the information we get back from the consultation, it will be reviewed and fed back to both boards to see if any changes need to be made to the proposals.
"The contributions we get can change things. We have a preferred option but things can be changed.
"We're looking for any impacts on groups of people we have not previously been told about.
"We know that people are going to have a certain view because it's a controversial process, but changes can be made."
Births at the rural units were suspended again last year, after a series of repeated overnight closures.