COMMUNITY leaders have urged health officials to make good their promise of public consultation on plans to scale back services for Buxton mums in labour.
NHS Derbyshire County says it needs to cut costs at the town’s Corbar Birth Centre, and is considering proposals to call time on births at the facility although antenatal/postnatal appointments and antenatal classes would continue to be provided locally.
If Corbar were closed for births, mums would face an 18-mile journey to Stockport’s Stepping Hill Hospital or 13-mile trip to Macclesfield Hospital.
The proposed closure was condemned this week by Anthony McKeown, newly-appointed executive councillor for community services at High Peak Borough Council.
Describing the centre as a vital facility for Buxton families, he called on the NHS to honour its commitment to “a robust engagement process” that would take account of the views of patients, residents and other key stakeholders.
His call for consultation was echoed by High Peak’s GP Consortia.
Councillor McKeown added that closure of Corbar for births would force mums in labour to use the heavily-congested A6 to Stockport or the notorious A537 Cat and Fiddle road to Macclesfield, dubbed Britain’s most dangerous road.
And he stressed that the cutbacks would not only affect women wanting to give birth at Corbar but also mums who delivered at Stepping Hill and Macclesfield before returning to the Buxton facility rather than remaining in the larger units.
David Sharp, chief executive of the NHS Derby City and NHS Derbyshire County cluster, said: “In a climate where the local NHS has to make significant savings, it is our duty to ensure that services provide the best value for money and are equally accessible to patients across the county.”
Labour’s Parliamentary spokesperson Caitlin Bisknell said: “Like most people I was horrified to read that the PCT is considering closing Buxton’s Corbar Maternity Unit.
“Given the geographic position of Buxton and the often hazardous road conditions, especially from late October to March, it is just ridiculous; giving birth can be traumatic enough without having to worry about the weather or road conditions.
“I am also concerned that if it did go ahead, it would lead to an increase in the number of planned rather than natural births, as mums-to-be opt to get to hospital safely rather than risk a late-night or bad -weather dash to hospital.
“My own son was born at Corbar – it is a lovely, friendly unit and a real comfort to mums and their babies. We must all fight to make sure it stays open.”