Don't downgrade our maternity unit, say campaigners ahead of public meeting this week (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Don't downgrade our maternity unit, say campaigners ahead of public meeting this week
A MASS meeting takes place this week involving campaigners who fear Barrow’s Furness General Hospital could have its expert maternity unit downgraded in a service shake-up.
The meeting takes place at 6pm on Thursday (March 7) at the town’s maximum-capacity venue, The Forum on Duke Street.
Barrow's consultant-led maternity unit is under the microscope as part of a wider-ranging service review by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust (UHMBT) which is looking at all its services and where they are based.
The unit has been heavily-criticised by users and a care watchdog, and is currently the subject of an ongoing investigation by Cumbria Police detectives looking into the deaths of baby and mothers.
Despite its criticisms, many Furness people are keen to see the consultant-led maternity unit retained in Barrow, so Mums with complicated pregnancies and births are not referred miles away to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
The campaign is spearheaded by Mandy Telford, a former president of the National Union of Students, and now mum-of-two married to the town’s Labour MP, John Woodcock.
The campaign is supported by health worker unions including Unison and GMB. The ‘Save FGH Maternity Unit’s Thousand Voices campaign has been compiling video footage of objections and has over 700 contributions, as well as 5,000 sigatures on an e-petition.
The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust (UHMBT) has been running the rule over where services are positioned to overcome a major shortfall in government funding.
The review will culminate in draft proposals being drawn-up and put out to consultation soon. UHMBT has previously stressed that no decisions have been made about where services will go, and that any proposals would be put out to consultation to give those with concerns an opportunity to comment.
The review is due to re-organisation in the NHS and the introduction from next month of new clinical commissioning groups.
These are teams of local doctors from local practices, which have been given responsibility for buying services and deciding where services are best placed, rather than NHS managers.
UHMBT has also pointed out that failings in its maternity and neonatal services provided by the Trust relate to the years leading up to 2011.
The trust board has this year committed to an independently-chaired inquiry into the incidents but say it can only start once the on-going police investigation is over.