HOPE SPRINGS MATERNAL
It's been a long fight – 50,000 signatures on the petition to keep Hope Maternity open…loads of rallies, marches and meetings…and lots of dirty dealings. But it now looks like the end for a full time maternity unit at Hope. The NHS Board are being recommended at tomorrow's meeting to endorse the closure, and replace the full time Hope Maternity Unit with a much smaller Midwife Led Unit which will cater for only a fraction of the current births in Salford.
Salford's doctors could have put up a fight against the closure, given that the government is determined to give them more power. But they didn't. Indeed, eminent doctors are lining up to back the closure. The Keep Hope Maternity Open campaign has issued its own response…
"These doctors clearly dislike being challenged, and, it seems, are not interested in the abundant research evidence that larger maternity units are not in fact safer for mothers and babies. Instead, they are 'fed up with the delays caused by protests and political interference'.
"What they label 'political interference' we call legitimate democratic process; and the days of "doctor knows best" are supposedly long gone. We have a democratic right to protest and to question decisions that will affect our lives and our health. Likewise elected MPs have a duty to represent their constituents. It would perhaps have been better had these doctors actually deigned to meet their critics to discuss the issues - as we invited them to do.
"'Making it Better' was possibly the biggest and most expensive consultation in the UK, and most lay people were opposed to the closure of their unit - thousands and thousands of them - but all of it made no difference to the planners. And they proudly call this a 'bottom up' consultation! Now we see starkly that the consultation was a sham, and the closures a foregone conclusion."
Meanwhile, the new `baby factories' that are to replace Hope are having their own problems finding staff. And there are serious worries that new units will not be able to cope. We understand that Salford has spent £250,000 on locum neonatal doctors in the last ten months because there are not enough juniors. Oldham, which should be having the new neonatal level 3 unit, hasn't yet appointed any neonatal consultants. Bolton interviewed for five neonatal consultants recently and only appointed two because there were not enough candidates for the jobs. If they can't deliver the staff how can they save these babies lives?
What we do know is that one local mum is seeking a judicial review around the closure, and when the decision to close Hope is ratified tomorrow, as expected, this will be the next legal avenue to save Salford's maternity unit.
In the meantime the Keep Hope Maternity Open campaign is urging everyone to turn out tomorrow and show our disgust at this unfair decision.
Protestors are meeting at 9-9:30am at the top of the ramp outside Piccadilly Train station, and are then walking across the footbridge to the NHS HQ to make their feelings known.
For the background to the fight to Keep Hope maternity Unit Open see here and here and here and www.keephopematernityopen.com
UPDATE HERE 2nd Feb 2011