Two maternity units in Gwent have been closed for over five months, as the health board deals with “significant pressure” due to a staff shortage.

The Aneurin Bevan University Health Board - which covers Newport and the wider Gwent area, has this week confirmed the closure of maternity services at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, and Nevill Hall in Abergavenny.

Services were halted here on Monday (May 9), and are estimated to remain shut until “October 2022”.

The news was first posted on the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board Maternity Services social media page.

According to a hospital representative, the move comes as part of an effort “to support our midwives who are under significant pressure due to the current staff shortage”.

What’s more, the maternity unit at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr in Ystrad Mynach will only be fully staffed between the hours of 8.30am and 4.30pm, with a midwife attending for births only, during out of hours.

Maternity services at The Grange in Cwmbran and Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan in Ebbw Vale are expected to continue to operate as normal at this time.

Parents-to-be also retain the option to opt for a home birth in Gwent.

According to a health board representative, the decision to shutter the units at the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall comes as the hospitals have seen just 24 and 20 births respectively during the last 12 months.

However, they have acknowledged that “some women’s choice of birth location will be affected.”

Statement from the health board in full

A representative from the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: “We want to let you know that the health board has made a decision to temporarily close the midwifery led birthing units at Nevill Hall Hospital and the Royal Gwent Hospital from Monday, May 9 until October 2022.

“The birthing unit at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr will remain fully staffed between 8.30am and 4.30pm but out-of-hours this will revert to a birthing POD with a midwife attending for births only. Home birth options and the midwife-led birthing area in Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan remain available.

“We would like to reassure you that this decision has been made with the best interests of our mums and new babies in mind. Please remember that women will still have four options within the health board area for birth.

“The number of births at Nevill Hall and Royal Gwent birthing units were 20 and 24 respectively for the past 12 months, so the number of births impacted by this decision is low. Nevertheless, we recognise that some women’s choice of birth locations will be affected.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused, but we believe this decision is the right one to ensure the safety of women and to support our midwives who are under significant pressure due to the current staffing shortage.”