Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting WN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Midwife hits out at NHS shake-up
2:20pm Friday 6th July 2012 in News
PREGNANT women will be treated like battery hens and more may be forced to give birth in their cars if NHS chiefs close obstetric services at one of Worcestershire’s hospitals, a former midwife has said.
Health bosses were grilled over the potential closure of an obstetrics unit at either Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester or the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch as part of a major NHS shake-up.
The possible closure of one of the county’s accident and emergency departments has already provoked public anger in Redditch.
The potential loss of obstetrics at one of the hospitals also came under the microscope at a meeting of the health overview and scrutiny committee at County Hall in Worcester on Wednesday.
Discussions are still at an early stage, but if women’s and children’s services (obstetrics and paediatrics) closes at one hospital it may still be possible to have a midwifery led unit on that site instead.
More complex, doctor-led obstetric work could be centralised at the other hospital.
However, having a midwifery-led unit, as well as a centralised obstetric unit would depend on Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust being able to recruit enough midwives to staff it.
Malvern Hills councillor Penelope Morgan, a member of the health committee and a retired midwife, was concerned centralisation would mean women travelling further to give birth.
She said: “I have worked in many settings in midwifery – small units and large units – and I know which I would prefer to work in and it’s certainly not a large midwifery unit.
"It’s like battery farming. This ships anyone who has a baby, all parents in Worcestershire, to some cattle shed.
“You’re going to get more babies born in cars and in roadside places. You can’t expect women to travel vast distances.”
Andrew Short, a clinical director for paediatrics at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said clinicians were looking at care both during delivery and pregnancy as part of the review.
He said: “We want to provide patient choice. I think all of the models allow us to do that.”
Centralising emergency and maternity services have been discussed as part of the joint services review aimed at plugging a £200 million funding gap.