If Corbar were to be closed for births, High Peak mums would face the choice of whether to travel down the already heavily congested A6 to Stepping Hill or over the A537 Cat and Fiddle to Macclesfield, repeatedly classified as Britain’s most dangerous road.
And with the High Peak, as well as many other parts of the country having recently experienced two harsh winters, Buxton’s rural location is causing concern for many local residents who could be forced to travel between 13 and 18 miles to the nearest maternity unit if Corbar was no longer available.
Addressing those concerns, Mr Sharp said: “I understand that the normal markers of prosperity are a two car family. If you live in the Buxton area, they are probably markers of necessity, not luxury.
“Trying to figure out whether people in Buxton travel further than anybody else is a question that I think is still hanging. So it’s not a question about rurality, it’s a question about whether rurality is having a particular effect on Buxton when it comes to the maternity unit.
“I think when you live in somewhere with all the amenity and the beauty and the location of Buxton, sometimes you won’t get all your health care services on your doorstep, and that is the same debate that’s going on in Newark, Nottinghamshire: when does a town become big enough to justify the full range of services? I dont think the economics stack up for Buxton.”
The trust have said that the review of Corbar and Darley Birth Centres is part of plans to make significant savings as demand for NHS services increases and that, assuming costs don’t increase, the cost of providing both birth centres is around £2.9 million over a five-year period.
They added that there was an extra cost to the PCT for the services provided at both birth centres, even though the births there were the least complicated.
Explaining this, Mr Sharp said: “If you go to Stockport Stepping Hill, for example, we pay Stepping Hill for that birth. A birth at Corbar costs more than that because we pay to keep the unit open as well as for the birth. In order to keep that unit open we’re paying a premium on top of the average cost so that’s why the cost is higher but the complexity is lower.”