Healthcare officials have announced they are suspending births at South Tyneside Hospital from Monday 4 December due to a shortage of staff. They say the decision, on safety grounds, was made after taking advice from professional bodies.
The announcement follows the temporary suspension of high risk births at the hospital's Special Care Baby Unit last week.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust says 'urgent safety protocols' were put in place to accommodate a small number of low-risk deliveries this weekend.
165 women were booked in to deliver at South Tyneside's maternity unit between now and 15 January. The trust says they will be contacted to make alternative arrangements.
The trust expects the majority of those patients will use Sunderland Royal Hospital, though they can opt to give birth in Gateshead and Newcastle. It says it is working with the North East Ambulance Service to ensure the safe transfer of women in labour.
The situation will be reviewed in the New Year, to decide if deliveries can resume.
In the summer, proposals were unveiled which could see the transfer of some services at South Tyneside District Hospital to Sunderland Royal Hospital. Maternity services, including the Special Care Baby Unit, are among the areas under review. The Trust told ITV Tyne Tees that the decision to suspend deliveries now would have no impact on the consultations into the longer term future.
On Friday, the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign group said it was 'shocked' to hear of the suspension of the Special Care Baby Unit, describing it as 'one crisis after another'.