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Maternity units “turn women away”

Many English hospitals had to turn away women in labour last year because they were full, according to new figures.

The BBC said that of the 70% of hospital trusts that provided data, more than 40% said they had been forced to shut their doors or divert women to other sites at least once. One in 10 said it happened more than 10 times.

The figures were obtained in a Freedom of Information request made by the Conservatives.

The Government said maternity units sometimes were forced to take action because it was hard to predict demand.

Of 103 trusts providing maternity services that responded, 42% had to close their units or divert women to another site at least once in 2007 because of capacity problems.

The Tories said that of those trusts that had to turn women away, 74% had more than 3,000 births last year, suggesting large maternity units seemed to be more at risk of having to close.

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Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said “The Government’s plans to close maternity units when services are already overstretched fly in the face of common sense.

“Labour are fixated with cutting smaller, local maternity services and concentrating them in big units.

“But women don’t want to have to travel miles to give birth.

“And they certainly don’t want to have to travel even further because they’re turned away by the hospital of their choice.”

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