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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 June, 2005, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Pregnant midwives shut baby units
Expectant midwives set to go on maternity leave have led to the closure of two maternity units, a trust said.

Blackbrook Birth Centre in Fareham, and Grange Birth Centre in Petersfield, Hampshire, will close from 4 July, due to 11 staff members' pregnancies.

Women not wishing to have their baby at home will use the main maternity unit - the Mary Rose - in St Mary's Hospital or Gosport War Memorial Hospital.

Portsmouth NHS Trust said staff from the units would cover the Mary Rose.

Service depleted

The trust is currently dealing with high sickness levels among its midwives.

It has 183 full-time clinical midwives but at least eight are on sick leave.

Several members of the healthcare support team are also set to go on maternity leave.

Donna Ockenden, head of midwifery, said: "With the service currently being depleted by so many midwives, we face a major problem covering our service and offering women the choices they want.

"This decision will be reviewed after a period of six months, which is the minimum length of time that most of our midwives take for maternity leave."

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