RECONFIGURATION: Maternity services in part of east Sussex are to transfer to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust in Kent.

The trust is to run the standalone midwife led birth centre in Crowborough, probably from April 1. The centre has been run by East Sussex Healthcare Trust but many women from the area go to Tunbridge Wells Hospital to give birth, and emergencies during birth at the centre are usually transferred there.

Both trust boards have now agreed the services should transfer to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, which also runs a successful standalone birth centre at Maidstone Hospital. The Crowborough centre had fewer than 200 births in 2014, has had recruitment problems and temporary closures, partly because staff were needed to support other maternity units run by East Sussex.

The move comes after High Weald and Lewes Clinical Commissioning Group held discussions with the Kent trust over a transfer. A public consultation had shown support for keeping the six bed unit open.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells chief executive Glenn Douglas said “We look forward to providing women in the High Weald area with the widest possible range of maternity services and choices, including the excellent Crowborough Birthing Centre, and seeing many more women benefit from this facility in the future.”

Richard Sunley, acting chief executive at East Sussex, added: “After listening to what local people were telling us during the… consultation, I am pleased that the organisations involved have been able to reach agreement and are now able to give people what they told us they wanted from their local maternity services.”