Gloucestershire birthing unit to stay closed for another five months

Cheltenham’s birthing unit and the post-natal beds in Stroud will remain closed for at least another five months[1] according to health chiefs. Hospital bosses say this is due to their shortage of almost 30 whole time equivalent midwife positions in Gloucestershire[2].

The midwifery vacancy rate has increased from 7.62 per cent in January to 13.73 per cent in March this year. And this lack of midwifery staff means the situation affecting the Cheltenham[3] Aveta Birth Centre and the post-natal beds of the Stroud Maternity Unit will remain unchanged until at least October.

Mark Pietroni, deputy chief executive officer of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust[4], spoke at the health overview and scrutiny committee on May 23 of the challenges they are facing. He said they have been doing an incredible amount of work to try and recruit more staff but the vacancy rate has increased slightly.

“It’s significantly better than it was at its worst but it’s worse than it has been. Midwifery vacancies are a factor of leavers and joiners and it’s a very dynamic picture despite the huge efforts that Lisa and the team have put into both recruitment and retention.

“Newly qualified midwives get on average four offers of employment at the moment because they are in such short supply and huge demand. What this means is that we are planning to have the Aveta birthing unit remain closed for a further six month period and also the post-natal beds in Stroud until October 2023.”

He said they would bring an update to the committee in July. He explained the requirement to provide one to one midwifery care during labour is an absolute requirement of our regulators.

“We are running about 97 per cent delivery against that requirement at the moment but 100 per cent is what’s required. In terms of the Stroud[6] post-natal beds, these are a slightly different issue as the midwifery unit in Stroud is open and other services are provided.

He explained mothers and babies in the postnatal beds require care if they are in the maternity beds. "One of the things we are doing in order to reopen those beds as quickly as possible is look at alternative models of care for those mums and babies in the post-natal care which may not rely on the midwife.”

Chairman Andrew Gravells[7] (C, Abbey) said the situation is disappointing and vicechairman David Drew (L, Stroud Central) said there were fears that the maternity unit in Stroud “is being shut by stealth”. Mr Pietroni said he understood the concerns and said people will only believe them when the post-natal units are open.

“We are clear about our commitment to reinstate both the services in Cheltenham and the post-natal beds in Stroud but I fully accept that until it actually happens there will always be some people who will be concerned.”


  1. ^ will remain closed for at least another five months (
  2. ^ Gloucestershire (
  3. ^ Cheltenham (
  4. ^ Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (
  5. ^ Alarm in Bishop's Cleeve as sewage leak from pump puts dog's health at risk (
  6. ^ Stroud (
  7. ^ Chairman Andrew Gravells (