County fails to back Corbar fight

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CAMPAIGNERS and councillors have said they are “bitterly disappointed” after county councillors chose not to refer the closure of Buxton’s Corbar Centre to the Health Secretary.

On Monday, members of Derbyshire County Council’s Improvement and Scrutiny Committee decided not to refer NHS Derbyshire County’s decision to close Corbar, and the Darley Birth Centre in Darley Dale, to the Secretary of State for Health despite strong calls from campaigners and local residents.

High Peak MP Andrew Bingham said: “I had already written to Andrew Lansley and informed him that if it was to be referred I would be seeking a meeting with him as I strongly support Corbar. Now that this path has been ruled out I am bitterly disappointed.

“I would like to pay tribute to everyone who has helped with the campaign, particularly Fiona Lichfield from the National Childbirth Trust who’s efforts have been heroic. Also Louise Bellicoso from the Buxton Advertiser, not just for the reporting of the whole issue but her continual and unstinting support for the campaign from the very beginning.

“There were many others who stood with us on our action day gathering signatures to the petition, members of the public, mothers of all ages and Conservative councillors who also lent a hand. July 1 next year will be a very sad day for Buxton and the High Peak.”

High Peak Borough Council leader Caitlin Bisknell added: “The NHS’ decision to stop births there will force expectant mothers to make an 18-mile journey to Stockport’s Stepping Hill Hospital or 13-mile trip to Macclesfield Hospital.

“When Derbyshire County PCT presented to our community select committee in September, we were not satisfied that a clear financial case had been made for Corbar’s closure, and nothing that I’ve heard since has convinced me otherwise. It does not bode well for the future of health scrutiny in Derbyshire when overwhelming local opposition to proposals is so easily ignored.”

County Councillor Pam Reddy, who has been involved with the campaign to save Corbar from the start, said: “Although I know I have worked hard to stop the closure I feel that I have in some way let down my constituents.

“It is a bitter disappointment to know that this fantastic centre will be closed from July 1 2012, and I worry about future mums-to-be who will have to make alternative decisions about births.

“I would hope that as many low risk mums as possible exercise their right to choose a home birth, and if they have any problems getting what they want that they write to the Clinical Commissioning Group and myself to ensure that they have patient choice.”

And fellow county councillor Robin Baldry added: “It is such a shame people in the High Peak are going to lose this facility.

“Throughout the engagement process nobody has really been able to give us the full financial picture about Corbar. I just keep asking the same question: what price for the lives of mothers and babies in the High Peak?”

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have also expressed their disappointment at the decision to close Corbar.

Jacque Gerrard, RCM’s director for England, said: “We are deeply disappointed as we have met with the commissioners at the NHS Trust, advised them about choices for women and the cost effectiveness of birth centres.

“Midwives are devastated at the loss of their local birth centres as women’s choices for childbirth are reduced and they now have to access maternity services in a doctor-led Obstetric unit, where medical interventions are more likely, rather than a midwife-led unit.”