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SALFORD MATERNITY UNIT AXED
 

Star date: 2nd February 2011 

HOPE MATERNITY UNIT SCRAPPED

"There will be chaos – ambulances chasing across Greater Manchester looking for somewhere for women to give birth" Hazel Blears MP

The long fight to keep Hope Maternity Unit open was lost this morning. Despite all the opposition to its plans, the Board of NHS North West voted unanimously to close Salford's baby unit.

The last hope for Hope now remains with a judicial review to be launched almost immediately to try and stop the closure.

More details here…


HOPE MATERNITY UNIT PROTEST HOPE MATERNITY UNIT PROTEST HOPE MATERNITY UNIT PROTEST
HOPE MATERNITY UNIT PROTEST
click image to enlarge

After a brief reprieve before Christmas (see here) the NHS North West Board finally decided to press on with its plans to scrap Hope Maternity Unit and replace it with a stand alone Midwife Led Unit which will mean only uncomplicated births will happen in Salford. All other births will be packed off to large `baby factories' scattered around Greater Manchester in Oldham, Bolton and St Mary's in Manchester.

The campaign against Hope's closure, led by mums and midwives, had argued passionately that Salford's baby unit – acknowledged as the best in Greater Manchester – should be kept open.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) had even written a report for the Board proving that the figures upon which the closure was based were "inaccurate". The RCM provided latest real figures showing how the birth rate has risen and the "extremely worrying" prospect of women having to travel even further than St Mary's in Manchester…

"The capacity for St Mary's is between 6000 and 6500, which St Mary's is already near without the remaining three units closing" the report states "It is predicted that St Mary's are to take 40% of the Salford women, which will be around 1500 women. They have no capacity for these women given the rate of their own birth increases, even if it halves in 2011."

Looking at the whole Greater Manchester plan for future births, the RCM report adds…

"We feel the Network need to be honest about the situation instead of painting a picture of all being well when it clearly is not. It is too upsetting a picture around the capacity issues."

The RCM report concludes by pleading with the Board to review its decision… "We have great anxieties that if the implementation of MIB and Healthy Futures continues on its present path that there are risks, particularly around capacity."

The NHS North West Board ignored these findings, while Salford's doctors stuck their head in the sand and agreed with the Salford closure - their representatives, the Salford and Trafford Local Medical Committee, wrote that it had "no outstanding issues" despite the huge campaign over the years by Salford people opposing Hope's closure.

At the NHS Board meeting Hazel Blears spoke in favour of keeping Hope open, and criticised the doctors… "the GPs said that they support the programme but had a caveat that it must be made clear that the GPs don't get the blame – because they know that the decision is unpopular."

Blears pointed out that Hope is the best performing baby unit in Greater Manchester and in the top 20% in the country, and read out the RCM's figures showing that there is not enough capacity for Salford women at St Mary's. She also underlined the opposition in Salford to the closure, concluding…

"If you confirm this decision there will be chaos for the future…ambulances chasing across Greater Manchester looking for somewhere for women to give birth…You will live to regret this decision."

Before the NHS North West Board made its decision, Blears asked two questions…

"Why are you closing the best unit in Greater Manchester?"
"Where will 1500 Salford women go when there's no room at St Mary's?"

She never got any answers at all as the NHS Board voted unanimously to close Hope Maternity Unit.

Speaking after the meeting Jill Morrison, a Salford mum who had a premature baby at Hope, said she was "absolutely disgusted…I was just hoping that by some miracle they'd got it wrong and that they'd change the decision today.

"I can't believe what's just happened" she added "I don't know how they've come to this decision. Now there's not going to be a Salford city as such – we're going to be taken over by Manchester yet again. And it's all wrong."

The next step for the Keep Hope Maternity Open campaign is to launch a judicial review into the decision.

"Today we've lost the battle" said Jill "But the war goes on…"


 


 

Brian Francis Kirkham wrote
at 16:55:07 on 08 February 2011
In response to Mr Claxton, The Idea of Salford's RC Cathedral Moving to Manchester? I Doubt it..given Salford is a Roman Catholic Diocese outside of meddling of the state , and Manchester is the smaller Church of England Bishopric.Despite previous meddlings into its Educational matters, Both councils would be in high water with the people if they tried to interfere in church matters. Court service is, in essence, another Governance Matter, outside of Local Governance albeit that Councillors can be assigned Justices of the Peace the proximity to the new civil justice centre in Manchester of Salford's Magistrates looks to have led to its demise. As for Maternity Unit / Childrens Hospital Closure i point my finger at the Boards for this one - I've no doubt our Local Medical School had a hand in this one but sadly it's led to four closures (Booth Hall was the first, then Garside St's Disposal, then Pendlebury and finally proposing Hope's Maternity Closure.) whilst extending and improving St Marys and elsewhere during this set of closures. When the dust has settled, contracts signed and Bright new shiny facilities have been built - it'll only be the dawn of the logistical nightmare that lies ahead.
 
Alan F Claxton wrote
at 05:14:01 on 08 February 2011
Please tell me what our labour councillors have done to save Salford Royal baby unit from closing down, then tell me how they have allowed Salford Magistrates Court to go the same way and we have to use Manchester Magistrates. If that was not taking the piss they have also allowed Salford County Court to go the same way as the Magistrates and yet again we have to go into Manchester to use the County Court. What is next? Will they close Salford Cathedral? And make us use Manchester’s? LONG LIVE SALFORD, THE BASTARDS Mr. Alan F Claxton
 
Fred Hampton wrote
at 19:26:27 on 03 February 2011
A bit of hipocrisy from Ms Blears, I think. She was a member of the Labour committee that sanctioned the closure of Maternity Units throughout the country. Then did a reverse ferret that Nick Clegg would be proud of when it was discovered Salford's Hope was on the hit list. One of Cameron's promises pre-election was to protect the NHS. All we have been hearing since the election is of massive cuts and hospital closures whilst the money paying off the PFI contracts for hospitals and services (i.e. NHS budget) is guaranteed for the private sector fat-cats.
 
jonathan Smith wrote
at 08:07:13 on 03 February 2011
Are the NHS Northwest board to be held liable in the eventuality of babies and/or mothers dying en route to ST Marys ? Name and shame them all now before the uint closes.
 
Matthew wrote
at 20:40:48 on 02 February 2011
A disgraceful decision which will undoubtedly cost lives. Without wanting to appear melodramatic, health bosses in the north-west are going to have the blood of Salford's women and children on their hands if this closure goes ahead. Quite apart from that, women are entitled to give birth close to home, with family and friends within reasonable travelling distance. And what does this say about patient choice, which the Coalition says is at the heart of its NHS reforms?
 
Jim Devine wrote
at 20:40:21 on 02 February 2011
It has just taken me 45 minutes to drive from Chapel St to Fallowfield so in reality at certain times you could be looking at an hour from parts of Salford to St Marys, shocking. Not sure about Hazel Bliars questionable contribution it hasnt helped much so far.
 
Ann Bannister wrote
at 20:40:14 on 02 February 2011
Hazel Blears is correct in stating there will be chaos with ambulances chasing across Manchester to try and find somewhere for mothers' to give birth, but also there will be chaos for mothers' in labour trying to get across Manchester just to get to St.Mary's. What with the MRI. the Eye Hospital and now the Childrens' hospital all in the same vicinity of St Mary's how in Gods name can the roads cope with all the extra traffic. No doubt if men had the babies' this decision would never have been made.
 
Dr Gary Paul Duke wrote
at 20:39:45 on 02 February 2011
Why am I not at all surprised at the NHS North West Board's decision to close the Maternity Unit. It appears that when citizens decide overwhelmingly in the most democratic manner to oppose the closure on grounds of need, the cabal-like Board undemocratically decide the opposite on grounds of cost. Recent events in Tunisia and now Egypt show that the only way these people will sit up and take notice is when ordinary people take to the streets and take decisive action. Apart from the judicial review, patients, supporters and staff would be perfectly justified in taking control and occupying the Maternity Unit. That way would ensure that it doesn't close and provides a vital ongoing service for the people of Salford.
 
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