THERE will be no more babies born at Fairfield Hospital in Bury after March next year.

Health chiefs yesterday pulled the plug on a midwife-led unit which would have allowed some births at the hospital.

Mums will now have no choice but to go outside the town, unless it is a home birth. Fairfield will lose its maternity and special care baby unit next March as part of a multi-million re-organisation of Greater Manchester’s women’s, children’s and neonatal services.

Health bosses had initially agreed to look at providing a standalone midwife-led unit, but yesterday afternoon, NHS Bury, the town’s primary care trust, decided it would not go ahead.

Campaigners who battled against the closure had mixed views on the decision, with some continuing the fight to keep the maternity unit open and others focusing on getting the best from the “Making it Better” scheme.

The possibility of a standalone midwife-led unit, allowing low-risk births at Fairfield, was first mooted more than five years ago.

NHS Bury carried out a feasibility study and a report to yesterday’s locality board recommended against it.

It cited issues such as low demand, lack of need and cost. Most parents and clinicians consulted also disagreed with the idea of a midwife-led unit.

Members agreed with the findings and approved the decision. It will now go to NHS Greater Manchester’s board meeting in September for final ratification.

Paul Horrocks, managing director of NHS Bury, said: “I agree with the feasibility study that it is not viable. Within seven and half miles, there will be four points of access for the people of Bury.”

The nearest units for pregnant women from the borough will be Royal Bolton Hospital, North Manchester General Hospital, or Rossendale or Salford Birth units — one of which, according to NHS Bury, will be accessible to all Bury residents within the recommended 30-minutes’ travel time.

The Royal College of Midwives wanted a midwife-led unit to support the “Making it Better” changes.

Lesley Gaskell, RCM regional officer covering the North West, said: “We are extremely disappointed at this decision. It is reducing women’s choice to have their babies in Bury.”

Fairfield Baby Lifeline Society says it agrees a midwife-led unit is not the right option, wanting to see existing services stay open.

Leading campaigner Sharron Entwistle said: “We don’t believe a midwife-led unit would be safe. What if there are any complications or a woman goes there in pre-term labour? And there isn’t the demand.

“We have always said we want full services retained in Bury, otherwise there will be a huge void and mums and babies will suffer.

“I don’t know if there is anything more we can do to try and reverse the decision but we are certainly still trying. It’s not over until they remove the services.”

Campaigners are currently trying to arrange meetings with Bury North MP David Nuttall and Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley.