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HUS seeks to defer closure of Porvoo maternity ward

The Porvoo maternity wing of the Porvoo hospital could be looking at an extension to its life span. That’s if the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district gets ministry officials to approve a deferral of government plans to close down maternity wards where fewer than 1,000 babies are delivered.

Vastasyntynyt vauva.
Image: Johanna Kasvinen / Yle

The board of the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district HUS has decided unanimously to apply for an extension for the maternity ward of the Porvoo hospital to continue operations until 2016.

New emergency regulations introduced by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health earlier this year called for the shuttering of all maternity wards that delivered fewer than 1,000 babies. The measure is part of government’s wide-ranging austerity plan and aimed to save some 60 million euros by closing small delivery units and concentrating births in large hospitals.

The number of babies born in Porvoo – some 50 kilometres east of Helsinki – falls short of the ministry cut-off point at between 800 and 900 annually.  

Porvoo serving mothers across eastern Uusimaa

Porvoo hospital officials have pointed out that the maternity ward serves expectant mothers throughout eastern Uusimaa, an area of some 100,000 customers. Once the hospital closes down, mothers will likely be sent to the labour ward of the Women’s Hospital in Helsinki, which is currently undergoing major renovations.

Births in Porvoo are expected to continue at least until spring 2016, when the Women’s Hospital will once more be ready to receive patients.

However hospital administrators continue to oppose plans to close the labour ward’s doors, saying that the maternity ward is the central pillar of a range of other services provided, including maternity care, pediatrics and anesthetics, which is required for Caesarean section procedures.

A final decision on the application to defer the closure of the maternity wing will have to be made by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

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