NHS NORTH WEST; STRATEGIC HEALTH AUTHORITY; SALFORD AND TRAFFORD LOCAL MEDICAL COMMITTEE; GOVERNMENT HEALTH MINISTER ANDREW LANSLEY; CHILDREN YOUNG PEOPLE AND FAMILIES NETWORK; CHILDREN'S NETWORK BOARD; MAKING IT BETTER TEAM and all the other organisations and individuals that have taken part in the decision to shut Hope Maternity Unit…
`Making It Better Team'…`Children's Network Board'…They all sound like cute baby-friendly organisations. But make no mistake. They're all carrying an axe behind their back – to hatchet Salfordians from existence by shutting down Salford's maternity unit.
This year, the Salford Star has been full of stories about the fight to save Hope Maternity Unit – ranging from accusations of bias in the closure decision (see here), to a broken government agreement to protect the unit (see here), to GPs being pressured to endorse the closure (see here) There's been a rally (see here), meetings (see here), a `Dog Your Doctor Campaign' (see here) and a December protest at the NHS North West board meeting (see here).
Amongst Salford people themselves, confusion reigns. One minute the whole maternity unit was shutting; then there was a small midwife led unit in its place to allow some babies to be born here. Then the ConDem Coalition Government promised a review into the whole unit's closure which would take into account the wishes of GPs (see here). Then the review itself seemed to be a pre-judged fait accompli (see here) that would rubber stamp the closure.
The currents state of play is that the final fate of Hope's Maternity Unit will be decided in February, after the NHS North West postponed its decision, awaiting more information.
The Salford Star, and others, believe that the decision was postponed so that, not only could the NHS shut Hope Maternity Unit, but also, so that it could shelve plans for even a small midwife led unit in Salford.
At the NHS board meeting in December, Mike Farrar, chief exec of NHS North West, said "In the original proposals the prospect of midwife-led units was discussed. Our view is that might need a further piece of work to be done."
Given the huge savings that have been imposed on the NHS by the ConDem Government this `further piece of work' might well be to axe the midwife led unit.
At a Keep Hope Maternity Open meeting in November, Salford's health professionals already feared for the small midwife led unit that was to replace the full maternity unit in Salford…
"Midwife led units are always being threatened with closure, they're an easy target in the current climate" said one midwife "They will do a u-turn and say it's not working."
And even Hazel Blears added: "We need to put real pressure on the SHA (Strategic Health Authority) to say we want at the very least a midwife led unit but there might be some issues around that. We're not out of the woods at all."
55,000 people in Salford have signed a petition against the axe for Hope's Maternity Unit. Everyone from Ryan Giggs to Mike Sweeney has spoken out against the closure. Ex Eccles MP, Ian Stewart, has been one of the most vocal critics of the closure…
"Every Salford citizen should be mobilising, voicing their opinion and doing something about this" he said "If the people of Salford don't act with their feet and their voices this will be lost…We should do something, not just talk about it…Speak up for it! Act for it! Or lose it!"
In February, Hope's future will finally be decided. 2011 is kicking off before it's started…
Ladies and Gentlemen. THE `LET'S WIPE OUT SALFORDIANS' AWARD goes to…
NHS NORTH WEST; STRATEGHIC HEALTH AUTHORITY; SALFORD AND TRAFFORD LOCAL MEDICAL COMMITTEE; GOVERNMENT HEALTH MINISTER ANDREW LANSLEY; CHILDREN YOUNG PEOPLE AND FAMILIES NETWORK; CHILDREN'S NETWORK BOARD; MAKING IT BETTER TEAM and all the other organisations and individuals that have taken part in the decision to shut Hope Maternity Unit…
See the Keep Hope MaternityOpen website here
See Day 6 of the SAlford Star Mary Burns Awards plus links to all this year's awards so far here
Photo by Albert Spiby