If Scunthorpe hospital maternity unit closes, babies' lives will be put at risk, say midwives
MIDWIVES at Scunthorpe General Hospital say the possible closure of the maternity unit in Scunthorpe could put babies' lives at risk.
Bosses reviewing the future of North Lincolnshire's health service have confirmed the maternity unit is under review as part of a wide-ranging assessment of services.
But Carol Lilley, Scunthorpe steward for the Royal College of Midwives, said any such step was filled with risk.
"Future plans could mean women have to travel out of their area to attend maternity appointments," she said.
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"This could see women and their families having to travel many miles to receive basic care and ultimately incur increased travel costs which many will not be able to afford.
"Therefore, women may not attend appointments putting themselves and the health of their unborn baby at risk – or will use ambulance services as transport even when not an emergency situation, impacting further on NHS finances.
"The knock-on effects of threatening to overhaul midwifery services, which are already stretched, may have a detrimental effect on the public's perception of the service they currently receive or expect to receive."
Ms Lilley spoke ahead of a meeting between Karen Jackson, chief executive of the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and senior North Lincolnshire councillors.
The meeting, to discuss the possible closure of the maternity unit, was set to be held today (February 14).
Ms Lilley said the midwives who work at Scunthorpe General Hospital deliver a safe, high quality service which should not be jeopardised,
She also said staffing at the hospital was already overstretched and it was occasionally forced to suspend its 24-hour home birth service due to not being able to guarantee a safe service.
The hospital has a birth rate of approximately 2,000 per year and a home birth rate of 3.7 per cent, which the union says will continue to rise.
Ms Lilley said: "The midwifery team offers a service which includes one-to-one care in labour 24-hours a day, in a safe, well-equipped, well-managed midwifery unit with staff trained to a high standard, which is key to ensuring safe care."
Claire Phillips, general manager for women and children's services at the trust, said: "It is important we ensure maternity services are sustainable and fit for the future.
"Commissioners are leading the current discussions around potential future options for service delivery as part of the Sustainable Services Review, and any risks will be taken into account during this process.
"However, we would like to reassure local people that the current service continues as normal."