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St John's Wood celebrity birthing unit is axed

PUBLISHED: 11:53 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:53 07 September 2010

St John and Elizabeth Hospital

St John and Elizabeth Hospital

A HIGH-PROFILE birth unit in St John's Wood famed for its popularity with celebrity mothers is set to close. The private maternity centre at St John and St Elizabeth Hospital has earned a reputation as the poshest place to push , with A-l

Sanchez Manning

A HIGH-PROFILE birth unit in St John's Wood famed for its popularity with celebrity mothers is set to close.

The private maternity centre at St John and St Elizabeth Hospital has earned a reputation as the 'poshest place to push', with A-listers such as Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow giving birth there.

The renowned unit opened in 1991 and was one of the first places to pioneer the 'natural birth movement', which rejects excessive medical intervention.

But in a shock decision, it was revealed to the Wood&Vale that after 19 years of delivering babies for the great and good the birth centre will close this July.

A spokesman for St John and St Elizabeth said every effort had been made to save it - only last year the centre underwent a complete revamp and was re-launched by a host of famous names including Kirstie Allsopp and Cold Feet actress Fay Ripley.

But he admitted that a combination of the recession and increased competition from other private and NHS maternity services had ultimately got the better of the birth unit.

It is believed the clinic on Grove End Road has been in financial difficulties for some time.

And despite charging between £8,000 and £10,000 to perform a delivery, it reported a loss in 2009.

The spokesman said: "With regret the hospital of St John and St Elizabeth announces the closure of the birth unit. This decision has been made as a result of an exhaustive financial review of our maternity services.

"Last year we made considerable effort to both refurbish and promote our unit in the face of the current challenging economic situation and increased competition.

"Sadly it's become clear since then that the unit isn't financially viable in the long term, leaving us with no choice but to close it and use the space to meet increased demands for other hospital services."

St John and St Elizabeth have told mothers due to give birth at the unit before June 30 this year that they will be unaffected by the closure.

But women due to deliver after July 1 and beyond are being offered a "managed transfer of care" to the maternity unit of their choice.

The centre's staff also received assurances about their future, with bosses promising to either redeploy them within the hospital or help them find a job elsewhere.

The spokesman continued: "The hospital is still looking at retaining maternity services other than deliveries, including ante-natal and post-natal care, and will make an announcement on this as soon as practical.

"In the meantime all aspects of the maternity services will continue as usual until closure.

"We are working with all the birth unit staff to find alternative positions within the hospital wherever possible and are also helping to identify suitable vacancies in other maternity units.


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