Our Mamma Mia maternity ward

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THE city’s much-criticised maternity unit has finally beaten the baby blues – bambino style.

For the recruitment of 16 new midwives from Milan has made it one of the safest places in the country to give birth.

The Italian job surge came after maternity bosses were struggling to find enough midwives in England to ensure all mums-to-be had one-to-one care.

The hospital’s head of midwifery, Tracey Payne, said: “There is a national shortage here of qualified midwives. But in Italy there are too many midwives and not enough jobs.”

The 16 young females are now settled in and proving a “real asset” to the maternity team, said Tracey.

“They all seem to have the same lovely disposition. They are sunny, cheerful and hard-working. They are a pleasure to have working for us.”

The staffing boost now means all women can be given continuous care by a midwife as soon as labour is established.

“We are the only hospital in the country to offer this, so Milton Keynes really is a very, very safe place in which to give birth now,” said Tracey.

The assurance marks the end of three years of misery for the unit following the preventable deaths of two babies. At the inquest of baby Ebony Comley-McCall in December 2009 the staff shortages on the labour unit were described as “nothing short of scandalous” and the pressure on midwives as “appalling” by then deputy coroner Tom Osborne.

NHS regulator Monitor ordered a task force of experts be sent to advise the unit. Care Quality Commission inspectors also visited and ordered a series of improvements.

Last year the unit was given the all-clear, though recruiting enough midwives was still proving a problem.

“We decided to recruit in Milan, where the midwives are trained. It has been a great success,” said Tracey.