SALFORD DOCTORS ABORT HOPE MATERNITY UNIT
In the ironically named `Making It Better' programme which is attempting to shut Salford Royal Hospital's Maternity Unit, health bosses at the NHS have produced their evidence for the Government's review in support of the decision.
Making It Better had to meet four tests for the review, one of which was `Support From GP Commissioners', or Salford's doctors. This was "explicity sought" by the Government and, according to papers seen by the Salford Star… "GP commissioner bodies agreed that the Making It Better model of care was the right one for women and children in Greater Manchester".
This was despite doctors raising concerns about "arrangements for safe transfer of patients" and the "sustainability of the workforce". The doctors' bodies appeared to be putting finance above safety, as they had "concerns over high costs of backtracking on the original decision".
As reported in the Salford Star last week (see here), the GP commissioner body for Salford – the Salford and Trafford Local Medical Committee - has tried to distance itself from the Hope Maternity closure by submitting a letter in response to the review stating that health bosses "must make it clear that it was not Salford GPs who led the decision to close consultant led maternity services".
These new papers show that doctors have now clearly supported that decision. Furthermore, not one single Salford doctor has accepted an invitation to meet with Keep Hope Maternity Open group to explain their stance. An e-mail sent to the Salford and Trafford Local Medical Committee (LMC) by the Salford Star, asking it to explain its decision on the Hope closure has also met with no response. And neither did the LMC show up at last week's Keep Hope Maternity Open meeting where the issues and evidence were discussed.
Health bosses have also, apparently, pulled out of a meeting with midwives and mums from the Keep Hope Maternity Open group due for Wednesday evening. Yet Part 2 of the Government review `Tests' was for "strengthened patient and public engagement"…
"The campaign group are extremely disappointed that they have been exempt from these meetings and that their concerns appear to have gone ignored" says Heather Rawlinson "We will be pressing Mr Lansley [Government Minister] to honour his promise of `no decisions about me without me'. The criteria he mentioned was that the public should be supportive and the public are not in this case."
The papers seen by the Salford Star merely state that health bosses "recognise the concerns of local people who are particularly affected by the changes."
Apart from the clinical evidence (Test 3) presented by the Keep Hope Maternity Open group at last week's meeting, mums and midwives were constantly making the point about both the travel implications of having to go to Manchester, Warrington or Bolton for maternity care, their safety concerns related to this and the fact that they wanted their babies to be born in Salford. Test 4 of the review was about "Patient Choice"…
The papers state that while it is "recognised that not all Greater Manchester families will have their first choice of service, it is clear that location is but one factor, and not the most important factor, in the selection of services"…
As midwives and mums pointed out last week, the location is infinitely tied in with safety. A point that was also made by the doctors themselves with their concerns about "arrangements for safe transfer of patients" from Salford to other units.
In the end, however, doctors appear to have put cost as the most important factor. Yet the `reconfiguration of services in Greater Manchester' doesn't come cheap.
"In this current economic climate" says Heather Rawlinson "a spending bill of £120 million with a further £41million seems excessive when money can be saved by retaining the first class service delivered at Salford Royal."
Unless something dramatic happens, and Ryan Giggs weaves some hospital wing magic in his support of the Keep Hope Maternity Open campaign, it looks like the decision to shut Hope will be ratified. It will leave Salford with just a small midwife led birth unit, which will only allow an estimated 20% of Salford babies to be born here.
It's just what the Salford doctors have ordered…
The decision on Hope Maternity was supposed to take place on Wednesday but the Star has now learnt that it has been postponed until December 1st, pending more reports. So there's still plenty of time to `Dog Your Doctor'...
See the `Dog Your Doctor' campaign here
See previous Salford Star feature here
See also www.keephopematernityopen.com
Photo by Gareth Lyons