MEP insists ‘vital’ maternity unit is worth fighting for

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FIONA Hall MEP has thrown her weight behind the Save Berwick Maternity Unit campaign.

As the future of the unit remains unclear, the Liberal Democrat MEP, who represents the north east in Brussels, said that it had been a “vital” part of the community for 25 years.

“As a mother and grandmother, I know that the care a woman receives before, during and after childbirth is crucial,” she said. “It is vital that communities like Berwick are not left isolated when it comes to healthcare provision.”

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust closed the unit’s doors to births five months ago, citing serious safety concerns.

Following a review period, the trust presented two options to commissioner NHS North of Tyne for the continuation of maternity services in Berwick. Both options - either to recruit more staff and resume services as they were before the suspension; or to provide a 24/7 on-call midwifery-led service - are currently subject to public consultation.

But Ms Hall believes that the outcome of the review was “less than satisfactory”. She said: “While the welfare and safety of mothers and babies must be guaranteed, I agree with the people of Berwick that the maternity unit is worth fighting for. Although plans to reopen the unit in April are to be welcomed, there are many unanswered questions as to the level of service that will be provided for expectant mothers.” She added that she would be supporting Alan Beith’s call for more resources to be put into Berwick.

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