A BUXTON mother who was turned away from Stepping Hill Hospital despite thinking she was in labour fears her experience could become a regular occurrence for women if the town’s Corbar Birth Centre were to close.
In March, Lauren Faulkner was told she couldn’t go to Stepping Hill while having regular contractions because the unit was full, despite her being booked in there and spending three nights in there the previous week.
She was told to wait at home until a suitable alternative could be found for her. After being sent to Macclesfield Hospital but released the following day when her contractions stopped, Lauren eventually gave birth to son Ged at Corbar four weeks later.
For Lauren, it was a traumatic experience to suddenly be told that she couldn’t go to the unit she was booked into to deliver her baby.
And Lauren’s experience is even more significant as a BBC Panorama investigation broadcast earlier this week found that maternity units across the country were closed to new admissions on more than 1,000 occasions during 2010 because of staff shortages or a lack of capacity.
Lauren explained: “I’d had my first child at 35 weeks so was classed as high risk.
“When I was just about 35 weeks this time I started having contractions so I went to Stepping Hill Hospital and spent about three hours on a CTG machine (used to measure the baby’s heartbeat and the woman’s contractions) because there were no doctors available to see me.
“When I was examined I was told I was in labour and given drugs to stop it. I spent three nights in there.
“My contractions stopped on the second day but I had to stay an extra day there because there was no doctor available to discharge me because they were so busy dealing with emergency stuff.
“I went home and was told to go back if it started happening again which it did about a week later when I was just over 36 weeks.
“When I rang up about going in, I was told they were full and couldn’t take us so we were told to stay at home while they phoned round to see if there were any other places to go.
“Macclesfield wasn’t full so I went there but my contractions stopped by themselves and I went home the next day.”
Lauren’s pregnancy then reached full term so she was allowed to give birth at Corbar, and her son Ged arrived on April 4.
Describing being turned away from Stepping Hill, Lauren said: “I was terrified. I’d already been told I was in labour and when I had my first child it was only two hours from first feeling the contractions to having her.
“I was scared I wouldn’t have enough time to get to hospital.”