That was the comment from one member of the public at SaTH’s Board meeting on 29th June. It’s all too clear that health bosses haven’t got a clue about the needs of rural areas.
The meeting nodded through a disgraceful paper – a plan to close the three rural maternity units – Oswestry, Bridgnorth, and Ludlow – for the next 24 weeks. This is apparently in order to do a favour for mothers in rural areas, because ‘regular temporary disruption of services is disruptive’. We’ve been telling them that – and that the closures are massively unsafe!
The proposals leave women forced to travel to Shrewsbury or Telford, and with local antenatal and postnatal care reduced from a 24/7 service to a daytime only 9 to 5 service. Inpatient postnatal care is immediately lost. Women can supposedly opt for a home birth – but campaigners already know of women being told this isn’t an option because there aren’t enough midwives, while (after a Ludlow woman recently waited 2 ½ hours for a midwife to attend her home birth) others will be reluctant to take the risk. The future for the Units after the 24 week closure remains unclear.
When something goes wrong in the NHS, there’s a need for healthcare providers to say ‘What happened, and how can we make sure it never happens again?’
Our hospital trust, SaTH, doesn’t work like that. When they fail, the response seems to be a defensive one, a knee jerk response of ‘Well, nothing happened, and even it did, it wasn’t our fault’. It’s dangerous, because it prevents learning, and it places lives at risk.
WE BELIEVE THAT HOSPITAL TRUST LEADERS ARE NOW GAMBLING WITH THE LIVES OF MOTHERS AND BABIES THROUGH CUTS TO MATERNITY CARE. WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT THEY ARE TREATING BEREAVED PARENTS – PARENTS WHO HAVE LOST THEIR BABIES THROUGH DEATHS THAT COULD AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED – WITH GENUINELY SHOCKING CONTEMPT.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING AT 3.30 PM ON TUESDAY AFTERNOON? COME ALONG TO THE PEACEFUL PROTEST AT THE SHROPSHIRE EDUCATION AND CONFERENCE CENTRE AT ROYAL SHREWSBURY HOSPITAL. PLEASE COME TO THIS IMPORTANT EVENT. BRING YOUR BABIES AND KIDS IF YOU LIKE. BRING A BANNER OR A PLACARD IF YOU HAVE ONE. MORE DETAILS ARE AT THE END OF THIS POST.
In your constituency, what are Parliamentary candidates saying about the NHS?
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A recent Shropshire Star poll showed that the NHS was, by a very big margin, the single most important election issue for Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin voters.
It’s no wonder. Nationally the NHS and social care are at a tipping point. Targets for cancer care, ambulance response times, and A&E treatment are being missed. Waiting lists for planned surgery are rising inexorably. There aren’t enough doctors, nurses or other staff. There aren’t enough beds. The gaps in social care reinforce the NHS crisis, and leave a growing number of people without the support they need. The Health Select Committee and independent NHS think tanks such as the King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust have highlighted the funding crisis in the NHS, and the way this is now affecting patient care.
In Shropshire, things are, if anything, even worse. Our area is grotesquely underfunded, getting the 6th lowest level of funding in the whole country – despite above average health need. Telford and Wrekin people face the loss of the A&E and Women’s and Children’s Centre. The remaining A&E will have capacity reduced by a shocking 60% – a direct route to chaos, given that our two A&Es couldn’t cope between them this winter. Rationing and cuts are already affecting hip and knee replacement surgery, mental health services, and referrals for specialist care. In Shropshire, social care cuts have been devastating for frail elderly people, people with learning disabilities, and people with mental health problems.