The birth centre at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital is set to remain closed for a further month after asbestos was found in the building.
Hospital managers Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were forced to act last Monday after builders found the hazardous material in areas including mechanical rooms and service voids.
And while the sections of the hospital with asbestos are not accessible to the public – and do not pose any risk to patients, visitors or staff while contained and managed – the Birth Centre will stay closed for another four weeks while the asbestos issue is being dealt with.
Paul Havey, Deputy Chief Executive, said: “Firstly it is important to reassure patients and staff that the asbestos is contained, sealed, and being appropriately managed, and daily air quality checks confirm there are no asbestos fibres in the atmosphere.
“However, we have decided to implement our business continuity plans for the birth centre and ultrasound service, which are currently located on the third floor, because of the issues that have been identified with the fire alarm system and lift.”
Some 27 mothers-to-be are expected to have their births disrupted over the next month, with one women a day on average giving birth in the centre.
The ultrasound service has been temporarily relocated to the ground floor while with the entire building fully vacated in the coming weeks before all services currently on the ground floor moving elsewhere.
Cathy Atherton, Divisional Midwifery and Neonatal Nursing Director, said: “From 25 February 2019 the Birth Centre will be temporarily closed.”
She added: “We are in the process of contacting women who were due to give birth there. We are very sorry that this has had to happen and acknowledge the impact that this will have for women and their families who had chosen to have their baby at the Birth Centre.
“We will work closely together to make alternative arrangements.”
Ms Atherton added: “Any woman who had planned to have their baby at Chorley Birth Centre in the next five weeks should call 01772 528223 to discuss the options available to them, if they haven’t heard from us yet.”
The hospital is “scoping a number of options” to reinstate the Birth Centre and will liaise with pregnant women to ensure they are updated.
Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: “I’m very pleased that the hospital has taken immediate action and they are putting mothers and babies first.”