WORCESTER'S MP Robin Walker has welcomed the announcement that a new midwife-led unit is to be set up in the city following a £500,00 grant from the Department of Health.

The new unit will be set up at Worcestershire Royal Hospital after Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was awarded the funding last week.

The city's Conservative MP Mr Walker said the announcement was "really good news".

"It means we've got the best of both worlds because mothers will have the chance of midwife or consultant-led care," he said.

"It's particularly welcome for the University of Worcester, which has an excellent midwife training scheme."

He added he had been disappointed that a previous bid for funding had been turned down so was especially pleased the most recent one had been successful.

The funding was announced at last week's meeting of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust - the organisation running Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Kidderminster Hospital and Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital - where chief executive Penny Venables said the unit would be set up in an existing part of the hospital.

“The whole push is to normalise deliveries, reducing rates of things like caesarean to being carried out through choice rather than need," she said.

The announcement followed the recent publication of a long-awaited review of hospital services in the county, which recommended consultant-led maternity services should be centralised in Worcester Royal Hospital while a stand-along midwifery centre is set up in the Reddich area.

Although concerns had been raised that the plans would lead to the closure of the A&E department at the Alexandra Hospital, the independent review did not recommend this idea should be followed, saying instead the most serious emergency cases should be centralised in Worcester.

The review also recommended paediatric inpatient services should be centralised in Worcester and that public transport links between the three hospitals should be reviewed.

The financial elements of the plans are currently being reviewed and are expected to be presented in April.