A PARENTING group and politicians have expressed concern about maternity bed shortages amid concern women booked in for planned inductions are being turned away or diverted to other “unfamiliar” hospitals.

One mother-to-be claims she was advised to “ring round other hospitals” after being told there were no beds available at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Paisley for an induction that she says was planned early in her pregnancy for clinical reasons.

She says she was told September is a particularly busy time due to “Christmas babies” and was told it was likely the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH), Govan, and the Princess Royal Maternity, in Glasgow city centre, would be in the same position.

Parenting group Mumsnet said conversations on its online forum showed shortages of induction beds is “relatively common” because it is standard for maternity units to run close to capacity, leaving little margin for error, and added: “Approaching your due date is stressful enough without effectively being told there’s no room at the inn”.

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Inductions to trigger labour are generally offered to women if a baby is overdue or if there are medical reasons to protect the health or the health of your baby and affect around three in 10 births. 
A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it could not comment on individual cases but said a divert had recently been put in place from the RAH to the QEUH due to capacity issues.

However, it said that had now been removed and claimed no mothers had been affected.

The Scottish Government said it expected boards to have planning in place ‘to ensure that any woman can be admitted for clinical or other reasons during pregnancy, birth or afterwards.’ 

The mother-to-be, who does not want to be named, says she was booked in for an induction a week before her due date after having a rapid labour with her first child because she lives some distance from the RAH.

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She said: “They told me I’m welcome to phone round the other hospitals but they pretty much told me they would all be the same as this is their busiest time of the year because of Christmas babies.

“There are women who are in an emergency situation so I wouldn’t want to take up space for them but at his rate I might be going in as an emergency, which completely defeats the purpose of the induction.

“I won’t be the only one with this story. A friend who gave birth in September 2018 was also told it was a busy month and was worried she wouldn’t have 
a bed.”

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet founder and chief executive,: “Approaching your due date is stressful enough without effectively being told there’s no room at the inn. 

“Conversations on Mumsnet show that a shortage of induction beds seems to be relatively common, although that doesn’t make it any easier to cope with. 

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“Many maternity units run close to full capacity as standard, meaning there’s no margin for error and women are turned away or re-routed to an unfamiliar setting – which is difficult for maternity staff and can be incredibly unsettling for expectant mothers.”

Labour’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “No pregnant woman should be treated like this. Our NHS must have the resources it needs to support women through childbirth. 

A spokeswoman for NHSGGC said: “We are fortunate within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to have three maternity units.

"This allows us to divert planned or spontaneous activity to other units if one is particularly busy and make sure women receive the appropriate care. 

“If we do need to divert activity, this is normally only for hours and not prolonged periods. 

“We recently had a divert from Royal Alexandra Hospital to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital but no women were affected and this has since been removed.”