STRUCTURE: 140 women identified as low risk are being asked to transfer their care from Russell’s Hall Hospital, part of Dudley Group of Hospitals Foundation Trust, to ease pressure. The trust has had to close its maternity unit 14 times since March 2011.

Instead, the women would have their care at City Hospital, the Halcyon Unit, or if they prefer, maternity units in Walsall or Wolverhampton.

These women have an expected delivery date from 1 February onwards. This action was started in the week before Christmas.

It is anticipated that undertaking this action will significantly reduce the prospect of any further unplanned closures.

In addition, to relieve further demand beyond the delivery dates of these 140 women, the Black Country PCT Cluster wrote to GP practices in Sandwell which are closer to City Hospital and asked them not to offer Russell’s Hall Hospital as an option for women who are confirmed as pregnant until 31 January.

In the longer term, Dudley is keen to change its capacity so that it is able to respond to the choices made by local women who want to have their babies at Russell’s Hall Hospital. The trust will have taken a view on this by February 2012 and will bring its plans to the cluster for discussion and decision.