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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Crisis summit to discuss Furness General Hospital maternity service move

HEALTH chiefs were today holding a crunch meeting in a bid to make a decision on the short term future of maternity services at Furness General Hospital.

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MEETING Lead GP for Furness, Geoff Jolliffe addresses concerned mums and supporters at last week’s emergency public meeting, held in response to proposed changes to FGH maternity services MILTON HAWORTH REF: 50044024B000

A night of confusion yesterday started with the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) saying a move of the special care baby unit and consultant led care, from FGH to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, had been placed on hold for 24 hours.

But by late night, the message had changed, sparking confusion among the public.

Following a meeting of senior staff and key agencies, it was agreed an emergency summit would be called at 9am today.

They were hoping a plea for help from neighbouring trusts for qualified special baby care practitioners would have reaped results.

In the event of no help being forthcoming however, the Trust Board was then facing a difficult decision, as pressing ahead with the plans would have been against the advise of the Strategic Health Authority and local doctors.

Fears were raised last night that the North West Ambulance Service may not be able to cope with the increased demand placed on it by emergency calls from FGH, should the move go ahead.

The handling of the situation was blasted last night by Dr Geoff Jolliffe, the lead GP for Furness.

He said hospital chiefs had tried to force through the move without meeting proper safety requirements.

He added: “During our negotiations we presented Furness General Hospital with a series of requirements. If they were going to move the SCBU they had to make a series of promises.

“They kept promising us the transfer was going to be safe, but the ambulance service just can’t provide the numbers to make it safe.”

“There are major questions about the way the Hospital management has handled this. It is an absolute shambles. They have angered the public and people are scared.”

Health workers had previously expressed their concern at how the proposed move would impact on category one “crash” caesarean sections, when the lives of mothers and babies are the most at risk.

Lynne Galvin, north west regional officer for the Royal College of Midwives, said: “They are correct in saying that a crash C section is ideally done within 30 minutes, and I’ve been in dialogue with the trust. They say the service will mirror that delivered at Helme Chase (the midwife-led maternity unit at Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal), so all the guidance will be similar.”

Category one C sections cover situations such as cord prolapse – where the umbilical cord comes out before the baby, cutting off its oxygen and blood supplies – and placental abruption, which can cause severe blood loss or haemorrhage in the mother.

A good practice document shared by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Anaesthetists says: “A target DDI (decision to delivery interval) for caesarean section for ‘fetal compromise’ of 30 minutes is an audit tool that allows testing of the efficiency of the whole delivery team and has become accepted practice; however certain clinical situations will require a much quicker DDI than 30 minutes and units should work towards improving their efficiency.’’

Have your say

I think it is absolutely appalling that the consultant led services at Furness General are even under threat of being downgraded. Barrow is an extremely isolate town, with a dire need for important services like the consultant led services, to help the local economy prosper and show that Barrow really is a family friendly town. Barrow will most certainly suffer if our vital services are stripped away.

Posted by Robin Jameson on 9 February 2013 at 14:19

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