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Petition to save Paulton birthing unit signed by more than 5,000 people

The petition was set up in 2019, but has attracted greater attention again following the recent announcement. Credit: Change.org

An online petition to save a birthing unit near Bath has been signed by more than 5,000 people since it was announced it's to be closed down.

On 16 January 2020 the NHS confirmed it will close two centres in Somerset and Wiltshire.

Both Paulton and Trowbridge will lose their birthing centres, meaning some women will now have to travel further to give birth.

According to the NHS, the proposal was developed to "better meet the needs and choices of women and families across the whole of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire."

It was announced Paulton and Trowbridge birthing centres will close. Credit: ITV West Country

Grant Johnson set up the fundraising page when the plans were first announced in 2019, but since the announcement last week more people have signed it.

Grant was born in Paulton Memorial Hospital nearly 30 years ago.

His sister also gave birth in Paulton because it was local and a space in which she felt "safe".

There was never any desire to be anywhere other than a place surrounded by family and friends. So, it came as a surprise to us last week that the Local Maternity System (LMS) announced its proposal to stop supporting births at both Paulton and Trowbridge.

– Grant Johnson

Grant originally wrote on the petition: "The claims laid out in the proposals suggest that the decision to do this is based on the fact that less women are choosing to give birth at these locations, due to fears of complications.

"It’s a shame to see that the LMS has decided to lead with this being the main factor when it is clear that this is all down to money. Consolidating services will only make matters worse for women, who no sooner after giving birth will become just another person taking up a bed. I’ve heard such fantastic and heart-warming stories about the level of care received by new mothers whilst at Paulton that it would be a travesty for this service to not continue."

The petition has currently been signed by more than 5,000 people. Credit: Change.org

Under the new plans confirmed last week some of the midwives from the two centres will be relocated to new units at Bath's Royal United Hospital.

It's a move that the NHS says will reorganise resources more effectively.

There will be a new midwife-led centre at the hospital, as well as one in Salisbury.

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group said the changes will "mean more equal access to choice for women about where to have their babies" and a "more effective use of resources".

It also said midwives and staff are "excited to embrace this new way of working in purpose-built facilities."