“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”.
Tracey Huffer, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East and a practising nurse, responds to the decision today by SaTH to close the rural midwifery-led maternity units at Ludlow, Oswestry and Bridgnorth for up to 24 weeks.
“This is disgraceful. This is disgusting.
“If Ludlow and the other rural maternity units are closed for nearly six months, they will never reopen.
Yet again, “staff sickness” has closed Ludlow and Oswestry maternity units. The level of staff sickness in our rural maternity units is extraordinary. Almost week in, week out we see a closure due to “staff sickness”. This is not staff sickness. It is understaffing and underfunding. It is a strategy that is set to deprive rural areas from vital maternity services.
It looks like rural maternity units won’t last long. Why on earth would a mother book into units that could be closed at a minute’s notice? Mothers won’t go there because they don’t want uncertainly at the most important time in their lives. Then Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) will then declare them to be unnecessary. We must fight this.
Today, the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) issued a press release about the plan to convert midwifery-led maternity units (MLUs) in Ludlow, Oswestry and Bridgnorth to on-call services. This means that mums-to-be must ring to arrange for a midwife to come to unlock the maternity unit before care can be provided for the mother and child. This could possibly work if births came according to a prearranged schedule but that’s not the way that pregnancies run. SaTH says this will “maintain choice for mums-to-be”. I can’t see that being the case.
If you don’t use a health facility, it will be closed. The mums-to-be I have spoken to are clear that they need certainty. They fear they will call a midwife when in labour and none will be available outside Telford. They need a clear pathway at an uncertain time of life. This panic plan will not deliver that. What it will deliver a few months from now is the permanent closure of rural midwifery units.
The SaTH press release is reproduced in full below.
Tracey Huffer, Councillor for Ludlow East and a practising nurse, has issued a statement on the news yesterday that the midwifery-led maternity units (MLUs) will be converted to an on-call system. She said:
“The Trust that runs Shropshire’s main hospitals has in recent discussions put forward proposal to replace all three midwifery-led maternity units (MLUs) in Ludlow, Oswestry and Bridgnorth with an on-call system. This effectively means a woman in labour will have to telephone through to request a midwife to meet them and unlock the doors to the unit! This will possibly be 24hrs a day, 7 days a week.