This Saturday, there's possibly the final public meeting by the Keep Hope Maternity Open campaign, to try to save a full maternity service at Salford Royal Hospital (formerly Hope).
An invite from the campaign group explains "that we are very close to decision time and we feel it is important that all stakeholders involved come together to raise their concerns".
Health Minister, Andrew Lansley, requested a review of the decision to close Hope, setting out four criteria which needed to be met in order for the closure to go ahead. The Keep Hope Maternity Open group has consistently shown that the four tests haven't been met - apart from one of them…
Test 1 was "strengthened patient and public engagement" – the campaign group maintains that it has not been consulted properly. Test 2 was `clinical evidence' – the campaign group has produced massive research to show that keeping Hope open would be safer for mums and babies. Test 3 was about "patient choice" which in Salford overwhelmingly is in favour of keeping Hope open, and the campaign has been backed by Ryan Giggs and Mike Sweeney plus thousands of people who have signed petitions.
Test 4 was "support from GP commissioners", or local doctors, for the closure of Hope. The doctors organisation, the Salford and Trafford Local Medical Committee, has now backed the closure while trying to keep a low profile. The Salford Star has written to the doctors' committee asking for an explanation for its decision and has not even had a reply. The campaign group has invited the doctors to attend meeting and not one single Salford doctor has accepted (see here for more details)
With this is mind, the Salford Star launched a `Dog Your Doctor' campaign last month (see here) which, we believe, is just the start of doctors being lobbied on a national scale. This has now been recognised by Dr Clare Gerada, the new chair of the Royal College of GPs who warned in an interview with the Guardian (see here) that the massive increase in influence for GPs would lead to patient power manifesting itself at doctors surgeries…
"I'm concerned that my profession, GPs, will be exposed to lobbying by patients, patient groups and the pharma industry to fund or commission their bit of the service" she said "There could be letters from MPs and patient groups, and begging letters from patients…At worst, the negative impact for GPs could be patients lobbying outside their front door…"
With Salford doctors not even willing to explain their decision to close Hope maternity unit to the media, Dr Gerada's prophecy is already coming true.
"I think it is the end of the NHS as we know it" she concluded. It certainly looks like the end of the Hope Maternity Unit - thanks to Salford's GPs and their new found powers.
So will Salford's doctors or their reps finally turn up to a public meeting to explain their decision? All will be revealed this Saturday 27th November at St James Church Hall…
Keep Hope Maternity Open Public Meeting
Saturday 27th November 2010 2-4pm
St James Church Hall, Vicarage Close, off Eccles Old Road, M6 8EJ
See the `Dog Your Doctor campaign here
See also www.keephopematernityopen.com to sign the online petition.
Photo by Albert Spiby