HEALTH bosses are to be questioned about the sudden closure of a midwifery clinic at Shap.

The fortnightly clinic at Shap Medical Practice shut on July 1 with women referred to centres in Penrith or Appleby.

The decision by the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust was blamed on low numbers of new mums using the service based at Peggy Nut Croft.

But Cllr Neil Hughes said there was no ‘consultation’ with the public or councillors.

He said NHS North Cumbria repeatedly claimed that communities were ‘fully involved in all strategic service decisions’ yet appeared to be speaking with a ‘forked tongue’.

Cllr Hughes, the Liberal Democrat representative for Eden Lakes, urged Cllr Pat Bell, the county council’s cabinet member for health and care, to look into the matter.

Cllr Bell said she planned to raise the issue with health boss Stephen Eames and would not seek to ‘justify’ the decision.

She said about 20 women a year accessed the clinic and those unable to get to Appleby or Penrith would be offered home visits.

Cllr Bell, the Liberal Democrat for Penrith East, said: “I understand from a statement from the trust that they have reviewed the provision of the midwifery clinic. This is to enable the midwifery workforce to make the changes needed to deliver the recommendation from a report about better births, in which women have highlighted the importance of continuity of care in pregnancy.”

Cllr Bell said a county council scrutiny committee would pick up the topic to examine how the decision impacted on people.

“Changes like this to the way services are delivered should only take place after engagement with current and prospective service users,” said Cllr Bell.

“This hasn’t happened as well as it should have done in this particular case, and it looks like it has fallen short of the standards expected by ourselves and our partners.”