HOPE MATERNITY CLOSURE A `FAIT ACCOMPLI'
The "lives and well-being of Salford mothers and babies are considered low priority" by GPs states Salford Maternity Forum
There are no words being minced in the battle to save Hope Maternity Unit. In September, midwives accused health bosses of ignoring an official report recommending that the maternity unit should stay open (see here).
Now the Salford Maternity Forum has written a series of candid letters to Government Health Minister, Andrew Lansley, and doctors' organisation, the Salford and Trafford Local Medical Committee (LMC), accusing local health bosses of ignoring their "legitimate concerns" as part of a review into the closure by the new government.
In the letter to Andrew Lansley, the Forum also implies that GPs have been heavied into backing the closure of Hope Maternity Unit.
It states that the GPs organisation "is clearly keen to distance itself from the decision to close Hope" and "reading between the lines, it seems likely that the GPs have been put under some pressure, and are very concerned about the closure".
This seems to be backed up by a letter signed by Dr Nigel Hyams, Chair of the LMC, to the Greater Manchester Children, Young People and Families Network, the health body which decided to shut the Maternity Unit
Dr Hyams writes that the Network "must make it clear that is was not Salford GPs who led the decision to close consultant led maternity services".
The GPs might not have "led the decision" but their consortium is still backing the closure. And it has come under fire by the Maternity Forum in another letter which expresses "astonishment" that it reached its decision without the Forum being consulted
"We are very angry and perturbed that the review appears to have reached its conclusion without involving us" the Forum states "We are forced to conclude from your letter that the lives and well-being of Salford mothers and babies are considered low priority by the commissioning consortium…It seems you have presented us with a 'fait accompli' which we find mystifying and extremely worrying."
The Forum presents a powerful argument in favour of keeping Hope Maternity Unit open, explaining that "the original plans to reduce the number of maternity units from 12 to 8 were predicated on the assumption that the birth rate was falling. The birth rate in Salford, far from reducing, has in fact risen by 16%.
"Because of this and our serious concerns about capacity and feasibility" the Forum adds "we strongly believe that the decision to close Salford Royal Maternity Hospital should be revisited in the interests of safety, with open and transparent involvement of all stakeholders."
The letter to Health Minister, Andrew Lansley, ends by accusing the Greater Manchester Children, Young People and Families Network of "breathtaking arrogance" in dismissing the Forum's concerns.
Tonight, Tuesday 26th October, there is an open meeting at Eccles Gateway which will now, we understand, be attended by both the doctors committee and the Network.
In the invite letter to the event, which is open to everyone, Lisa Kean, Chair of the Salford Maternity Forum, makes reference to a meeting they had in September with Andrew Lansley…
"Following that meeting he clearly stated on air that `We need to respect the choices that patients, or in this case for maternity services, mothers to be themselves, would make about where they want services to be provided to them. It needs to be clinically safe.'
"Privately, he also told us that he did not understand why it had to be 13 maternity units reduced to 8 units and why it couldn't be 9 units, especially as SRFT (Salford Royal Foundation Trust) was one of the best performing Trusts in the country".
Open Meeting hosted by Salford Maternity Forum
Tuesday 26th October 2010 7:30pm
Eccles Gateway, Community Rooms 2 & 3
28 Barton Lane, Eccles M30 0TU
For further details see www.keephopematernityopen.com
See also Hope Maternity Unit Scandal here
and the Save Hope Rally here
SALFORD HOSPITAL CUTS SO FAR...
* We have gone from having a world class childrens hospital in Salford to a 6 bedded overnight ward only, after that children have to go to Manchester.
* The gynae ward has been disbanded and women are now dispersed over other wards. Apparently there will be a new ward within the new building at Salford Royal on its completion. At present this means women who are miscarrying or needing gynae surgery are on general surgical wards and are not always cared for by staff who understand their needs.
* The postnatal ward has been joined up with the antenatal ward so space is at a premium. We have lost beds despite a rising birthrate.
Photo by Albert Spiby