Barrow MP hits out over decision to move maternity services
Last updated at 16:19, Monday, 04 February 2013
THE decision to move top-level maternity services and critical care for ill newborns away from Furness General Hospital has been slammed as “shocking”.
The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which runs FGH, yesterday announced Barrow’s consultant-led service and Special Care Baby Unit will be temporarily transferred to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary while bosses work to solve a staffing crisis.
FGH maternity services will be midwifery-led from Tuesday , taking only the most routine of births.
Sir David Henshaw, UHMBT interim chairman, said the trust had seen a “marked increase” in maternity sickness since the escalation of an ongoing police investigation into the deaths of mothers and babies in the Barrow unit.
He said: “Over the past eight weeks, we have been filling shifts with the goodwill of existing and agency staff but the situation has now risen to a level where this is not enough to ensure safe staffing levels.”
Furness MP John Woodcock has long feared an ongoing review could see FGH’s maternity unit downgraded permanently.
Of yesterday’s announcement, he said: “This is a shocking decision.
“The special care baby unit and the consultant-led maternity service should be a priority for the area and surely could have been kept open by a temporary transfer of staff from other hospitals in the trust.
“Managers owe it to families here to get the consultant-led service back as soon as possible and to do whatever it takes to dispel suggestions they want to remove special care for vulnerable newborns permanently.”
Sir David said: “We have no desire to keep the service away longer than it needs to be and are aiming for the service to return as soon as safe, sustainable staffing levels can be achieved. “However, it would be wrong of me to guarantee the exact timings as there are many factors outside of our control such as resolving the sickness absence levels.
“The trust board has instructed the medical director and executive chief nurse to report back in two weeks with a plan for the return of these services to FGH.”
In November, UHMBT revealed the FGH SCBU would merge with the maternity ward because of staffing problems.
Changes were also announced to the unit’s admission cut-off point, from babies born 32 weeks into pregnancy to those who reach 34 weeks gestation.
But fresh concerns led to the decision to temporarily move it altogether. Chief executive Jackie Daniel said: “We will continue to work hard, together with the wider NHS, to recruit more midwives and neonatal nurses. We have also liaised with other specialist and regional providers to second staff, but this has not yet proved successful.”
First published at 16:55, Friday, 01 February 2013
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
as a mum who had a terrible terrible experience at FGH i fully support the shutting of the unit, it needs closing reassessing and opening up in a position to look after mums and babies. yes distance is awful but id rather have my baby in lancaster, carlise or preston or the back of an ambulance en route and know that its life wouldnt be at risk like my last baby. plenty will argue with me but unless youve been in the situation where you and your baby are at risk youll never ever understand what that kind of fear feels like