Your baby can still be born at Hemel Hempstead Hospital - if it’s a rush job and Watford are playing at home

Maisie Illing with mum and dad, Chloe and Alan and sisters Eleisha, four, and Cassie, two.
Maisie Illing with mum and dad, Chloe and Alan and sisters Eleisha, four, and Cassie, two.

A third-time mum gave birth at Hemel Hempstead’s Urgent Care Centre because doctors said she would not make it to the maternity unit at Watford.

The centre, off Hillfield Road, was once the home of an award-winning birthing unit but since services have been downgraded mums-to-be have to go to Watford General Hospital or Stoke Mandeville in Aylesbury.

But Chloe Illing, 23, ended up giving birth to 7lb 3oz Maisy Honey at Hemel Hempstead after a labour that lasted less than three hours.

Chloe, of Everall Close, Hemel Hempstead, said: “We didn’t have time to get to Watford. My mum drove me down to Hemel to get an ambulance from there but they said I wouldn’t make it in time.

“There was football on, too, so there was no way we would have made it to Watford.

“It is crazy the people have to go all the way to Watford or Aylesbury.”

Chloe, who already has two other children Eleisah, aged four, and two year old Cassie, was worried about making it to the hospital in time as her due date loomed closer – Cassie was also born after a short labour.

Her mum Debbie Pontin was so concerned that she had stocked her van with blankets and towels.

“I was worried,” she said. “I think it is going backwards – shutting maternity units down is not going forwards.”

A West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust trust spokesman said: “We are sorry that Mrs Illing was not able to get to Watford Hospital as planned – however, in some cases, babies surprise everyone and come extremely quickly.

“We know that the team at Hemel Hempstead will have provided appropriate care, including calling for support from our community midwifery team.

“We would like to wish Ms Illing and her family all the very best for the future and, if she would like to discuss any specific concerns, we would suggest she contacts us directly.”