Today Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust launched a six week consultation on the future of rural maternity services. It has kept this very quiet. The review follows the extended closure of MLUs in Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Oswestry.
Tracey Huffer, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East, says: “It’s almost a joke. It is so typical of the way that SaTH is working.”
The midwife led maternity units have been closed for births for weeks. Now SaTH has launched a consultation intended to make the closure for births permanent.
SaTH may try to pretend that the closure of MLUs for births is temporary. The reality is that it will be permanent. It may blame a shortage of staff. The reality is that SaTH itself has created that shortage. SaTH may plead that women are “preferring” to give birth in Shrewsbury or Telford. The reality is that rural mothers have had no choice where to give birth because SaTH has constantly closed the rural midwifery led units at short notice.
I am lost for words. We have been here before. We have been backwards and forwards time and time again on closures and consultations.
But SaTH has not listened to anything said so far. Rural mothers around the county have shouted loud that they want to give birth locally. They have organised protest marches. But the health trust has not listened to anything the mothers who love the maternity units in Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Oswestry.
Families in rural areas deserve first class local maternity services. We have had that service until just a few years ago. The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust now wants to withdraw midwifery led maternity services from rural areas.
The time is long overdue for SaTH to recognise that it is also the Shropshire hospital trust. It must serve us all, not just Shrewsbury and Telford.
It will be a huge blow to rural life if mothers are permanently banned from giving birth in our community hospitals.