Star date: 6th September 2010 


An official report recommending that Hope Hospital's Maternity Unit should stay open was "ignored" and there was "a clear indication of bias" in the consultation proceedings, according to a new document produced by midwives.

The document states that "there was never a chance of maternity and neonatal services being retained at Hope, from the very start of the consultation process". And, as a result of population increase, it adds, "We judge that the new unit at St Mary's will be barely able to meet the needs of its own population let alone that of Salford…"

Full details here…

A report recommending that Hope Hospital's Maternity Unit should stay open, produced by expert health consultants Teamwork Management Services (TMS) at the start of the reorganisation of the region's maternity services in 2004, was "ignored" according to new evidence produced by Sarah Davies, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery at the University of Salford, and Heather Rawlinson, a midwife and Salford resident on behalf of the Keep Hope Maternity Open campaign group.

Their paper, The Case For Retaining Full Maternity And Neonatal Services in Salford, states that the TMS report, commissioned by the Children, Young People and Families' Network and published in 2005, "unequivocally recommended that Hope should be one of the sites" that stayed open. But the conclusions were never made public in the subsequent Making It Better consultation document about closing maternity units in the region.

The TMS report concluded: "in terms of which sites should provide specialist neonatal care it is sensible to build on the existing, well-established and accredited units at St Mary's and Hope Hospital. There is no evidence from the service user, clinical or commissioning perspectives, or published audits available to this review, that either of these established services should be moved from the two existing hospital sites."

Davies and Rawlinson comment: "The fact that the team ignored it suggests that prior to the public consultation, the team, following the GMNNB (Greater Manchester Neonatal Network Board), had decided that Hope would not feature as an option for intensive and high dependency neonatal care - despite the fact that it was the only other RCPCH (Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health) accredited unit apart from St Marys. One of the requirements for lawful consultation is that at the formative stage the team must have an open mind on the outcome. This demonstrates a clear indication of bias."

They add that when the consultation was concluded, TMS was excluded from analysing the responses, and, instead, a different company, Tribal Consultants, was brought in and came up with new options… "but none of these included Salford Royal, and therefore there was never a chance of maternity and neonatal services being retained at Hope, from the very start of the consultation process, despite TMS's unequivocal recommendations."

Davies and Rawlinson make a compelling case for the retention of Hope's baby unit, arguing that "it is obvious that Salford is both safe and cost-effective and in fact performs better on all indices than its neighbouring units" which is backed up with evidence of latest statistics, adding that maternity care at the new proposed sites of St Mary's, North Manchester and Bolton will be less effective.

One of the reasons given for closing maternity units by the ironically named Making It Better team was that population was not predicted to rise significantly. But latest statistics show that the population of fertile females is falling everywhere but Salford (6% rise), Trafford (2%) and Manchester (18%)… "We judge that the new unit at St Mary's will be barely able to meet the needs of its own population let alone that of Salford."

This could lead to pressure for beds in the maternity units which might see women being discharged just two hours after giving birth or not being cared for on labour wards until they reach 6cm dilation…. "These are not safe practices and are not contributing to positive experiences for women and their families."

Meanwhile, Davies and Rawlinson explain, "Moving maternity and neonatal care out of the City will cause already disadvantaged families more hardship…

"The proposal to retain only a stand-alone Midwifery Unit will result in only the healthiest, low risk women able to give birth in Salford, while women with complications will have to travel further" – and this despite 39.2% of Salford residents not having cars, and despite Salford's notoriously bad public transport links.

"Ill health is higher in more deprived populations such as Salford therefore the reconfiguration will result in perpetuation of the 'inverse care law' – those who need it most have the poorest care."

Davies and Rawlinson conclude: "Increased mortality and morbidity are recognised to be a consequence of poverty. Salford has a level 3 accredited unit for a very good reason - the residents of Salford need one!"

Photo by Albert Spiby




carrie fergus wrote
at 21:15:02 on 21 September 2010
Yes ok John, I accept that point and to pursue the other avenue would be futile. Readers of the whole debate can make up their own minds as to whether there are double standards here or whether you have addressed the saliant points satisfactorily or not.
John Merry wrote
at 13:09:03 on 20 September 2010
I suggest Carrie you go and reread the contributions around the 9th September when entirely false claims were made about the council colluding with the Health Authorieties and not fighting to save Hope. That is why I think Heather felt compelled to post. The result apart from you has been silence. On the NWDA I thought I explained that a judgement was made after an investigation and I don't think the result would have been different had he been a local authority employee. I did not take part in the investigation.
Carrie Fergus wrote
at 19:39:47 on 19 September 2010
Ok John, reading back through this debate the accusations I can grasp are that the d leader of Salford City Council said that the Salford police officers who where sacked for sending racist text messages got what they deserved and Salford City Council has no time for people who use racist language. Then I read that that you are on the board of The NWDA and receive £9.000 per annum from them for 24 days work which doesnt include weekends (shouldnt you be dedicating this time to the people of Salford or is the £9,000 the real reason) and are happy to sit alongside a CEO who sends a text about "a dying Paki asking who is in the fucking shop?". And what do you say "oh shucks I know he isnt racist". That reminds me of a friend of mine years ago who got drunk and lashed out at someone, he was rightly fined for GBH and yet he was the least violent person I have ever met, he done the time for doing the crime. I hope you now have the grace to withdraw your comments instead of using Heathers perfectly viable comments to try and recover your own exposed position. And as for Democracy, if votes really did count your ilk would ban them.
John Merry wrote
at 09:48:49 on 17 September 2010
Thank you Heather I hope that those who have been spending their time hurling accusations against the council will now have the grace to withdraw them although for some the facts will no doubt not be allowed to get in the way of the arguement
Heather Rawlinson wrote
at 06:32:58 on 17 September 2010
As a co-author of this report I am pleased to see that it is generating interest. People interested in the campaign can check out our web page at www.keephopematernityopen.com The group is a user group independent of any political group but welcomes support at any level and from every group. I wish to point out that the Scrutiny Committees comprised of PCTs at the original consultation were unhappy with the proposals and therefore the decision to press ahead was nothing to do with Salford Council. The council registered their disapproval and moved for a judicial review. The forum has been pleased to have received some excellent help and advice from some council members that has enabled them to hold the recent successful rally.
Salford Star wrote
at 19:23:20 on 16 September 2010
See Carrie's comment...You can actually do an audio challenge to get comments up - just click on the speaker next to the word things..
Carrie Fergus wrote
at 19:18:02 on 16 September 2010
You only need to look at Blair , Brown, Thatcher, Bush,Reagan, Nixon, Hitler etc, etc and most UK politicians and councillors to maybe accept that Democracy is the problem. I dont believe for one minute that the people of Salford wanted Hazel Blears but all she had to do was ingratiate herself to a few constituency cronies and then its back to happy days. And as I have said before I feel you are a decent man John caught up in an indecent system and forced into defending positions that are indefensible because your whole world now depends upon it. But lets all remember one of the greatest sentences ever by Edmund Burke "It takes only good men to say nothing for real evil to exist". P.S I have one gripe against the Star and that is the code we have to put in each time might prevent sight impaired peolpe to take part in the discussions.
John Merry wrote
at 09:08:43 on 16 September 2010
The previous response was done on a phone in a hurry and a couple of vital words were missed out Sorry Carrie. What I was I was trying to say is that the council has been part of the campaign to save maternity facilities from the beginning and therefore to ask us to explain why the consultation was done by others in the way it was seems a little unreasonable. I have to account for my actions to the people of Salford and Broughton I don't think you can dismiss the fact that I have been reelected without attacking democracy . The response was not meant to be arrogant merely responding to someone accusing me of lacking a spine or brain
Carrie Fergus wrote
at 21:41:16 on 15 September 2010
I think Mr Merry's arrogant and non sequitr responses prove that the punks were right and it is the system that needs changing, to imply they can behave anyway they want just because they were voted in is deeply crass and worrying. We all thought the expenses scandal would lead to real change but John has clearly shown in these exchanges that he will defend his crony board members and crony council officials but snear and patronise ordinary Salford folk voicing their concerns. I like the Salford Star because it doesnt seem to have an axe to grind and as Neil Young says "Long may it run".
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 18:55:24 on 15 September 2010
Is it really a poor response to point out that less than half of the people of this city voted for your party? And now you are taking it upon yourself to read the minds of the people of Salford? Or is it that you really think that if you keep telling people that the mess you have created is for their own good they will start to believe it. I don't recall saying that I represented anybody, I just listen to what people in Salford say. As for running for election I'll leave that to those with greater minds & nimbler tongues.
Brian F Kirkham wrote
at 17:17:27 on 15 September 2010
As far as i understood it - The Northwest NHS Managers engineered this by allowing the Medical schools to have centers of excellence all over the county. This then let Central Manchester NHS Trust take over RMCH and put it under St Marys umbrella, whilst Salford Royal got specialisms of Rheumatology and Neurosurgery, as part of this, Maternity services were scaled down at Hope - and yes it led to the campaign to keep that department open. Thing is, I don't remember anyone screaming UNFAIR during the early stages of the Reorg, till it actually happened (Typical!) I don't like the current arrangements either, but it's like the song says..."You dont know what you've got till it's gone!" BTW..Is RMCH still in use at swinton? I don't know if anyone has been to St Mary's...More S. Manchester than Central Manchester, but it's a bit like Hope - The buildings swamp you!
John Merry wrote
at 16:10:17 on 15 September 2010
How many times do I need to make it clear the questions you asked on sepr 9th are questions of others rather than who are members of and leaders of the campaign to keep the maternity facility in Salford. V poor response from Nachtschlepper who no doubt will be offering himself for election by the people he claims to represent but far from social cleansing the council has been offering support for those who want to stay in Salford. Realty is if we wish to maintain our spend on services such as adult care in Salford we do need new people to come to Salford and the majority of Salfordians know that and welcome them.
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 04:36:13 on 15 September 2010
It's becoming more & more obvious what the Council's agenda is regarding the City of Salford. A place deviod of a past, a herritage & any sense of belonging. Starting with the social cleansing of areas such as Lower Broughton & continuing the process by denying anybody the right to be born in the city. As for the last local elections; it is hardly an overwhelming mandate from the people when fractionally over half those eligible actually voted. I can only assume that 'being vindicated' means that you will have rid the city of those nastly Salfordians & moved in some nicer, better off people.
Mike Skeffington wrote
at 12:27:51 on 14 September 2010
Mr Merry, it's a sad state of affairs when a council is not party to such vital and far reaching decisions on what could well be life and death consequences. You seem to have lost the thread somewhatand if you would read my previous posting on this matter I have made it quite clear what we expect the council to do. Your suggestion that we direct our questions elsewhere is absurd. It is your responsibility to put those questions on our behalf and not pass the buck. As to your expectation of vindication in the future choices you have made, it seems to suggest you have abandoned the cause for which your own citizens are still fighting. You have still not answered my questions posted on 9th Sept so please do. Finally Mr Merry, your point about being endorsed by the people of Salford really is a sign of desperation. You know as well as we do what Salford people really think of the council and especially Hazel Blears and the whols shameful fiasco. The relationship between the people of Salford and the council is at an all time low and is exacerbated by the council's failure to support it's citizens in their hour of need in the face of outside interests. Please answer questions Mr Merry.
john Merry wrote
at 15:16:17 on 13 September 2010
mike and nachtschlepper I don't think you quite get the fact that we were not party to the decisions you were complaining about so your questions need to be directed elsewhere. I appreciate you think there are other things you think we could have done and if they are not simple idle rhetoric let's hear them.but I think we are going to be vindicated in the choices we have made for the future of Salford . I would expect you also to reflect on the local elections we have just had and the fact that we were endorsed by the people of Salford
Mike Skeffington wrote
at 11:25:43 on 13 September 2010
Mr Merry, when you say action was taken, regarding the racist and homophobic comments in question, according to the the agency's procedures it is clear that those procedures are inadequate, especially where senior staff are concerned. Had it been a junior staff member I'm sure the consequences would have been much more severe. On the point of Hope Hospital services Mr Merry. If you have followed my argument you must realise I have never espoused the notion of, 'better no service than a limited service' and you are quite wrong to suggest that I have. It is abundantly clear that the council has already capitulated to the faceless bureaucrats by the very fact you seem to endorse or even favour the idea of a severely limited service. Please read comments Mr Merry and don't quote comments which were never made. Also Mr Merry would you be so kind as to answer my questions posted on, 9th Sept
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 09:51:05 on 13 September 2010
I'm complaining about the Council's lack of commitment, not just to Hope Hospital, but to so many other problems that face the city. The problem is that all career polititians have to follow the party line. Yes the odd complaint here & there to make it look like they are trying, but that's all. That is of course one point of view. It is also possible that those who are supposed to represent us are simply not up to the job. Why, for instance, did it take the Salford Star to raise this issue of a decision already being made & the consultation being biased?
John Merry wrote
at 12:34:47 on 12 September 2010
yes you read that wrong and you don't appear to have read the rest of the comment either
Fidelma Gallagher. wrote
at 07:26:36 on 12 September 2010
John Merry has proclaimed below "I will not put up with any form of racism or homophobia ". The fact he earns £9,000 for 24 hrs work per annum (yes not 24 hours per week but per year) Correct me if I read that wrong, from an organisation whose CEO sends a text about a "dying Paki asking his family whose in the fucking shop" indicates that he is quite happy to put up with it. You mention action being taken, has the CEO been sacked like the GMP officers? . As Carrie says John, it is not good enough to exonerate someone just because you know them. Make a stand against racist behaviour John, follow your own councils guidelines and show that you are a man of action not words.
John Merry wrote
at 17:14:07 on 10 September 2010
I am not condoning the remarks and the matters were considered in accordance with the Agencys procedures. It is not true to say that no action was taken. In reply to Mike I have made it clear that the Council played a full role in the campaign to save hope and will support the campaign to force a successful outcome to the review. Last time we made it clear that we disagreed with our own government. The midwifery led unit was a poor second best but I disagree with you Mike in you saying that if the alternatives come down to no service at all or a limited service we should reject any service. I don't think women would thank us for doing that. ( note to self remember to put name to this comment)
Mike Skeffington wrote
at 14:54:26 on 10 September 2010
I wish to thank John Merry for sharing what was a very personal and tragic event in his life as I'm sure many other Salford people would. I agree Mr Merry that there are very many racists in Salford, on both sides I might add and indeed throughout the country. Like it or not racism is on the increase and is caused through fear and feelings of injustice. It does not help matters when the CEO of a prominent body expresses racist and homophobic sentiments, however frivolous, with impunity. On the matter of Salford's maternity and neonatal services, I still await answers to my questions posted here on 9th Sept. Time I think Mr Merry for the council to show it's metal and stand with the people who pay your salaries. Retaining these vital services is fully justified in every way, as the Davies and Rawlinson report proves. I look forward to your reply.
Carrie Fergus wrote
at 14:53:47 on 10 September 2010
Poor answer John, its not good enough to just defend somebody because you happen to know them. The justice system would be in chaos if that became the guideline. This is the crux of my disillusionment with our 'leaders'. They are full of moral indignation when others commit misdemeanors but completely change face when it is one of their own. They bring in draconian laws so the public can be spied upon then bring in the police when it happens to them r.e telephone tapping. "Oh we make the standards ,oh we make the rules and if you think we will abide by them then you must be a fool.Standards rule ok". P Weller.
John Merry wrote
at 14:53:12 on 10 September 2010
I am sorry I forgot to put my name on it! I dont normally write under a penname and even if I did I would choose a better name than "wrote" !
Salford Star wrote
at 09:55:16 on 10 September 2010
See comment below... We assume this is by John Merry, Leader Salford Council, who forgot to put his name on it...
at 09:53:34 on 10 September 2010
Carrie I don't think trying to put the record straight on the councils record on Hope is a childish spat. On your other points let me also try and be very clear. There is no council proposa l to get people to work an hour for nothing. The first I knew of it was when I read about it in the MEN. A group of officers had been asked to come up with ideas to be looked at by members and someone chose to leak the officers paper to the MEN. On the NWDA it has not been abolished yet there are hundreds of people working for it and it still has millions of pounds to be spent in the North West I was asked to stay on to ensure we look after the interests of the North West and the people who work there ,the vast majority of which are not highly paid. I do take exception to the implication that I am not committed to the fight against Racism You may not be aware of this although others are I was married to a Muslim until she tragically died at the age of 34. Do you know what it is like to be holding hands with the one that you love and to hear her being called "dirty Pakistani" behind you or to hear how she had stones thrown at her in the street . After that incident I was told by one councillor that there were no racists in Salford and I had to contradict him. Luckily the vast majority of people in Salford welcomed her. I will not put up with any form of racism or homeophobia but I don't believe that the CEO is a racist or anti gay. I wanted to try and open a dialogue with people about how we try and move the city forward but I must also point out that we also took our case to all the people of Salford and despite the predictions of some of your we did win the election
Carrie Fergus wrote
at 23:11:18 on 09 September 2010
It seems to me that John Merry is more interested in childish spats than dealing with serious issues. I read an interesting letter in the M.E.N tonight critiscising Salford Council and my first reaction was to defend the councils stance on job losses as their position seemed imaginative. Then I remember the Right Honourable John Merry has signed up to a new two year deal with the discredited NWDA at a cool £9,000 a year for two days a month turning up to board meetings to an organisation that has been abolished. This is the same organisation whose CEO has not only insulted Pskistanis but Homosexual men (ref. recent Salford Star article). And what did the d leader of Salford Council say about the sacked Salford police officers who committed the same offence "They got what they deserved, I have no time for anybody who uses this language in public life ". Mr Merry are you going to donate this £9,000 of public money into the kitty before you ask the 'ordinary people' to make their own sacrifice, and are you going to distance yourself from THE NWDAs ceo in the same way your deputy distanced himself from the 'ordinary people' of GMP. Again we wait with baited breath !!!!
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 19:45:50 on 09 September 2010
With respect Mr Merry the majority of us feel that we are talking to ourselves.
John Merry wrote
at 16:47:39 on 09 September 2010
It's good that Nachtschlepper (see below) does not descend to personal abuse to make his point but I suppose he is entitled to his rant. The facts are that no one involved in the fight to keep maternity facilities at Hope has ever complained about a lack of commitment by the council to the campaign and indeed have been pleased by the approach of all three parties . Obviously I am in the public eye so must expect some abuse but I made a plea elsewhere for other people who post different opinions to be given a modicum of courtesy otherwise you will all just end up talking to yourselves.
Mike Skeffington wrote
at 12:29:25 on 09 September 2010
Mr Merry please don't insult the intelligence of Salford people further by suggesting that this issue is not entirely in the hands of the council. I suggest you and your colleagues were well aware of the decisions concerning the city's vital maternity and neonatal provision from the earliest stages of the consultation procedures and that you were equally aware of its bias conclusion. Explain Mr Merry why the TMS report was ignored and why they were prevented from analysing conclusions to the consultation. Also who are, Tribal Consultants, how much did they cost and who made the decision to employ them?. I think it is time Mr Merry for you as council leader to show your true colours and take up the standard in the fight to retain Salford's maternity and neonatal services. The evidence is before us all thanks to the diligence and hard work of, Davies and Rawlinson. Our message to you Mr Merry, the council and the GMNNB is: this is a battle the people of Salford will not lose, this is our Dunkirk. Now we will see who's side the council is on.
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 09:43:34 on 09 September 2010
While we are talking things medical, when are we going to elect someone with a spine & a brain. Mr Merry, if you had tried arguing in the first place, & I mean arguing not putting up your usual token resistance, then we might not be in this situation. You should be incandescent with rage that this decision was made before consultation had taken place. Unless of course you knew of that decision. Once again you have let the people of Salford down.
John Merry wrote
at 00:47:41 on 09 September 2010
Everybody is clear that the ideal solution is for us to retain the maternity provision is mike really saying that if we don't win the argument we should refuse to have any maternity provision in Salford
Mike Skeffington wrote
at 18:40:52 on 08 September 2010
I agree wholeheartedly with OB. This is a perfect opportunity for those councillors who profess to have the best interests of Salford people at heart to show their true colours and in that number I include John Merry and Hazel Blears. I have always been of the opinion that the people who know best what is needed in Salford are those who were born and live here. My message to those 'so called' professionals who carried out the research for this proposal is this: You may be leeching extortionate amounts of money from Salford taxpayers, but I can assure you that there are many Salfordians who would do a much better job and at a fraction of the cost. On a final note I would remind people of my past postings on the conduct of Salford council in matters of this kind. Decisions are made far in advance of any public consultation, as this case proves beyond doubt. I would be interested to hear the council's reply to this because for them to deny it would be an insult indeed to the people of Salford, who pay their extremely high salaries.
OB wrote
at 22:02:21 on 07 September 2010
"The proposal to retain only a stand-alone Midwifery Unit will result in only the healthiest, low risk women able to give birth in Salford, while women with complications will have to travel further" – and this despite 39.2% of Salford residents not having cars, and despite Salford's notoriously bad public transport links." Now, at risk of sounding like some kind of bearded, lefty, Guardian reading socialist of a bygone era - let me ask; who are the 'healthiest,low risk women' in Salford? Erm.....could it be the ones from more well off backgrounds? Those from Monton perhaps? Or those living on the quays? Or maybe even those middle class non native professionals who have moved here to be away from the high london property prices and close enough to walk to Manchester city centre for work? Could it be then, that those who are most healthy and financially able to travel to another district, won't have to, whilst those natives of Salford, from less well off backgrounds and therefore more likely to need local care (and less likely to be able to travel) won't? Another executive decision taken by our great 'labour' leaders in Swinton that favours the middle class while actually and physically putting working class, labour voters at risk to life and limb - and even those not yet born. Shame on you. This is the opinion of an independent labour voter; born and bred in Salford and pig sick of our tretment by those self indulgent people who seem to have forgotten who pays their wage and why.
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