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‘Our birth cap will not see local women turned away’

10:42 31 January 2013

Whittington chiefs moved to calm fears over a new ‘birth cap’, which will see no more than 4,000 babies born in the maternity unit each year.

Head midwife Jenny Cleary has said no woman from either Islington or Haringey will be turned away from the hospital because of the limit, which has been in place for a number of months already. As yet, no one has been turned away when choosing the hospital, it is claimed.

Speaking to the Ham&High last week, she said that while midwives “would love” to welcome more women to their ward, the figure had been agreed after taking into consideration the building’s physical constraints.

Ms Cleary said the most important thing is to prevent the ward having to close due to overcrowding – something it has avoided in the past.

“If we are going to bring women into the system it is about ‘can we look after them?’,” she said. “We do not want to have women labouring in our corridors.”

Last year, 3,942 babies were born in the hospital and, according to its projections, the number of births will remain below 4,000 for this financial year and next.

However, just 75 per cent of these births were from mothers who lived in Islington or Haringey – the hospital’s ‘core patch’.

Were the figure of 4,000 to be exceeded, women from these two boroughs would be given priority, with those from out of the area told to find another hospital.

“None of us can predict the future – it is not an exact science,” said Ms Cleary.

“On average, we are still under. [If we go over] then we have to think, do we need to change the building?”

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