Speaking today in the House of Commons, Barbara has called for plans to close maternity and neo-natal services at Hope Hospital in Salford to be reversed.
Salford City Council’s Community Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee has been asked to look into the decision to withdraw services from Hope, which was made by a joint committee of local Primary Care Trusts on December 8th. The decision may be referred by the Council’s Scrutiny Committee to the Secretary of State, who can refer the final decision to an independent panel.
Speaking during a Commons debate on Maternity Services, Barbara said that:
“I do not believe that the option being recommended locally is the right decision. The outcry from my constituents and people across Salford has shown that public opinion is strongly against the option being recommended."
Referring to the high quality, and cost-effectiveness of the services currently provided by the Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust, Barbara continued:
“Salford Royal’s unique range of specialist services enables it to support high-risk maternity cases – services which benefit approximately 120 women a year. These services are not found in any other general hospitals meaning Salford women would have to travel elsewhere should the proposals go ahead.
"Continuing to provide neonatal services at Salford Royal would be as safe and effective as providing them elsewhere, but, crucially, they would be delivered at lower cost, at lower risk and with greater potential for the future.
"The option in the consultation document which involved Salford continuing maternity and neonatal inpatient care is also the option which would be of best value; it can be in place within 14 months and costs £1 million less than the other options. Choosing the cheapest and quickest option seems to me to be common sense as it frees up money which can be spent on other improvements to the health service.
"There are also excellent local reasons for retaining maternity and neonatal services at Hope."
Barbara told the Commons:
"... neo-natal units need to be based where there are the highest number of low birth weight babies, rather than where the biggest maternity units are. Salford has the highest incidence of very low birth weight babies, so to move the unit away would be to deprive local people of a service which they desperately need. It is only right that these babies – and their parents – have easy access to the care they require.
"Salford has the lowest level of car ownership in the Greater Manchester area. Travelling to the other locations by public transport is not easy and for a heavily pregnant woman, or one with a small baby, it could be both unpleasant and difficult. The length of journeys needed would be unacceptable for some women.”
In conclusion, Barbara said:
“I do believe it is right for an MP to continue to press the views of local people while the decision- making process is continuing.”