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Little James Clewlow could be one of the last babies ever born in Chorley.

His family had to make a sudden detour to Chorley hospital after mum Alison’s waters broke in the car as they drove to Preston.

Minutes after arriving at Chorley hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department, 8lbs 13oz James made his unexpectedly early appearance into the world.

Proud parents Alison and Stuart Clewlow, from Euxton, have praised staff but say it could have ended in tragedy if they’d had to go to Royal Preston Hospital.

New figures obtained by the Guardian reveal that just 61 babies have been born at Chorley hospital since the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust withdrew the post-natel care in August due to declining figures.

In total 126 babies have been born since April 2010, compared to 248 in 2009/10 and 301, more than double, in 2008/09.

The shocking statistics come as a new report suggests that midwife-led centres, like Chorley, are under threat due to high costs and the decline in expectant mothers using them.

For the full story, see this week’s Chorley Guardian.