“After this people will have no trust in public consultation.” That’s the view of Councillor Tracey Huffer after the Clinical Commissioning Groups decided to downgrade Shropshire’s rural maternity units. The plan, still subject to confirmation, is that only prenatal and postnatal services will be offered at Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Oswestry maternity units. Babies will have to be born somewhere else. As we have seen in Ludlow, that will sometimes be at home without medical support. This downgrading of rural services has been described by one medical professional as “a real and exciting opportunity”.
Councillor Tracey Huffer, who is also a practising nurse, is very angry with the decision.:
“The whole consultation over the future of rural maternity units has been a charade. This proposal makes a mockery of all of us who gave time up to attend so-called consultation workshops.
“What has come out of all the consultation is absolutely nothing. The CCG is just doing what it always planned to do. Centralise vital services in Telford and Shrewsbury at the expense of those that live in rural areas of the county and Powys.
“After this, people will have no trust in public consultations. It was all sewn up in advance.”
Sarah Jamieson, Head of Midwifery at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), is reported by the Borders Advertizer to have said:
“I’m delighted the proposals from this review are now available to us… We know that the needs and wishes of our population have changed over the years. This review has been responsive to those changes and presents us with some real and exciting opportunities.”
That is an extraordinary statement. Mothers have been under pressure to give birth in Telford and Shrewsbury, not in the rural midwifery led units. What’s more they haven’t been able to give birth locally because the units have been closed for months. The only way mothers will be able to give birth locally in the future is at home or in a layby on the side of the A49.
“This also means the writing is on the wall for Ludlow Community Hospital. If the health trusts strip away vital services like live births, the next conclusion from the CCG will be that the hospital is unviable. Our hospital already has to pay a huge rent to PropCo, the NHS property arm which acts like a greedy commercial landlord.
“We all feel let down by this decision. The consultation on rural maternity units has been a charade from start to finish. I am furious that people who live in rural areas are once again being treated as second class citizens.”
Shropshire Defend Our NHS have also issued a very angry statement saying:
“How dare they? They’re playing games with the lives of women and babies.”