Basildon Hospital is temporarily suspending the use of gas and air for pregnant women after concerns about staff being exposed for long periods of time.

The maternity unit at the hospital has stopped the use of Entonox with bosses saying that every other method of pain relief will be available for mums.

It comes after an investigation was launched at the maternity ward after staff were 'overexposed' to nitrous oxide

Hannah Coffey, acting chief executive of Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are temporarily suspending the use of gas and air in the maternity suite at Basildon Hospital to protect our staff who are working on the labour ward for extended periods of time. We expect the issue to be resolved within three weeks.

“We’re very sorry that women using the service won’t have access to Entonox during that time, but would like to reassure them that every other method of pain relief will be available.


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“Checks to make sure that our maternity staff at Basildon were working safely showed that some staff were being exposed to high levels of nitrous oxide – the gas present in Entonox.

“While there has been no risk of harm at all to mothers and babies who have used the unit, prolonged exposure to the gas can lead to issues with vitamin B12 deficiency. We need to be sure that we are keeping our staff safe, so while we urgently install a new ventilation system we have taken the difficult decision to suspend the use of Entonox.

“Our midwives are contacting the families we expect to have their babies at Basildon over the next three weeks to talk to them about the options available to them.”