Baby births to be permanently moved from Causeway Hospital to Antrim Area Hospital

All baby births in the Northern Trust are to take place at Antrim Area Hospital with Causeway Coast Hospital's maternity services now described as 'unsustainable'.

The decision was made following a public meeting in Portrush after a 14-week consultation.

Falling birth rates, workforce challenges and the absence of neonatal special care baby unit facilities have been blamed for the decision, the Trust said.

It is understood that women with complex conditions or those with certain conditions will receive antenatal care at clinics in Causeway Hospital.

Currently, women with complex needs travel to Antrim or Ballymena for this care.

Scheduled ambulatory maternity care will also continue to be provided on the Causeway Hospital site.

Speaking after the Trust Board Meeting, Dr Dave Watkins, Medical Director at the Northern Trust said: “We have always been clear about the reasons why change is required. Serious concerns continue to be raised by clinicians in relation to the safety and sustainability of the Trust’s current model of maternity services and we cannot ignore those.

“Our ultimate aim is to have a new-build Women and Children’s Unit on the Antrim Hospital site. This will provide high-quality, purpose-built accommodation for maternity and paediatric services. However, it is subject to business case approval and funding availability and is unlikely to be commissioned for service before 2027/28 at the earliest.

“So we urgently need an interim solution that will address the challenges.

“The public consultation allowed us to explain the need for change and to present for consideration what we believe were the only two clinically deliverable options. Hopefully we have achieved that but we also acknowledge that change is never easy and we understand the very real concerns that many people have and which have been well reflected throughout the consultation period.

“In recommending the transfer of all hospital births to Antrim, that does not prevent us revisiting the possibility of setting up a midwifery-led unit in the Trust at some point in the future, should the outcome of the Department’s review offer that flexibility.”

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