BERWICK MP Sir Alan Beith says the proposed changes to maternity services in Berwick do not provide an adequate solution to the problems.
He is concerned that Northumbria Healthcare Trust’s safety review “does not adequately deal with the concerns and reasonable expectations of Berwick mothers.”
In the safety review published yesterday, the trust says it is unable to reopen Berwick Maternity Unit for births or post-natal care until April 2013 at the earliest.
In the longer term, it has come up with two options for what it says would be the delivery of safe maternity care in the Berwick area.
The first is the reopening of the unit, with Berwick’s midwives placed on a mandatory rotation to Wansbeck Hospital in order to maintain their skills at the busier consultant-led unit. The trust says it would need to recruits more midwives if this option was taken.
The second option is a 24/7 on-call system for care during labour, which would either be delivered at the home of the expectant mother, or using a maternity birthing room in Berwick. Inpatient postnatal care would be provided for up to six hours following birth, after which the trust say women would be supported in their own homes by an enhanced postnatal community midwifery service.
The options have been presented to the commissioners of the service NHS North of Tyne, which will be tasked with making a decision.
However, Sir Alan plans to raise his concerns in parliament.
He said: “This review does not adequately deal with the concerns and reasonable expectations of Berwick mothers. It puts off re-opening the Maternity Unit until April next year, it suggests an alternative which is no more than a home birth service with the option of using a hospital bed, it fails to explain how the Ambulance Service is expected to cope with the effects of closure and the potential increase of births on the A1 and it rules out working more closely with Borders General Hospital, which is where the majority of Berwick babies have been born this year.
“I will be seeking early meetings with the Commissioners to express my concerns and will continue to raise the issue in parliament.”