STRUCTURE: The future of maternity services in East Kent is under review.

The joint review by East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust, NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent and local GPs will take place between January and May.

At present there are two midwifery-led birth centres for low risk births in Dover and Canterbury, one midwifery-led unit at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, and another due to be opened at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

In addition there are consultant-led obstetric units at Ashford and Margate and some home births.

However, an increase of 400 births on previous years in 2010 made it difficult to ensure round-the-clock midwife availability, forcing the Dover centre to temporarily close to births.

Although that centre reopened this month, the birthing centre at Canterbury has now suspended birthing services and the recently completed unit at Margate will stay closed during the review.