FEARS that babies could be born in ambulances on the A6 as their mums are rushed to hospital in Stockport have been voiced this week after plans to review the future of Buxton’s Corbar Birth Centre were revealed.
NHS Derbyshire County say the centre at Buxton Hospital is being targetted to make savings as new treatments and an ageing population put pressure on services. But the trust said they were only reviewing where births take place and that all antenatal/postnatal appointments and antenatal classes would continue to be provided locally.
If the decision was taken to close Corbar for births, High Peak mums would then have to choose whether to have their baby at Stockport’s Stepping Hill Hospital, 18 miles away, or Macclesfield Hospital, a distance of 13 miles.
Local councillors have expressed their concern at the plans, and fears for the safety of High Peak mothers and babies.
Councillor Pam Reddy, who represents the Buxton North and East Ward on the county council, said: “The Birthing Centre at Buxton is a valuable and essential resource for families in Buxton. Not only does it mean that mums can have their babies within a short distance of their home, it means that they can have regular visitors. It is important for mums that they do not feel isolated from their families at such an important time for them. If they are in Stockport or Macclesfield they will be keen to return home. This may impact on mums choosing to breastfeed. There is a drive to increase the number of mums who breastfeed and this could actually cause a reduction.
“The roads in Buxton can be affected badly during the winter months and this could add an extra worry for mums. How many babies will be born on the A6?
“I accept that not all babies from Buxton and the surrounding areas are born at Corbar, however, mums who deliver at Stepping Hill and Macclesfield are offered the opportunity to return to the Corbar unit rather than remain at the larger units. This is something that will also be lost. I’d like to know how many mums return to the unit to benefit from this?
“I think the benefit of this unit is far beyond the facts and figures that are available, its about providing a service to local people, it is crucial that Buxton does not just become a town that happens to sit on the A6.
“This is an added problem to be considered in Buxton because of it’s position. This won’t be helped by any possible changes to bus services in Buxton that may come out of the recent consultation.”
And county Cllr Robin Baldry added: “For someone going into labour this would be a hell of a journey. What happens if there’s a problem? We’ve always got someone at Corbar who can deal with incidents.
“They’ve not considered the impact on the ambulance service either because this is going to use more ambulances. I don’t think this has been thought through at all and I will be asking for a serious rethink.”
High Peak MP Andrew Bingham was furious when he discovered about the proposals on Tuesday. He said: “I was extremely disappointed not to find this information out directly from the PCT and I am extremely concerned. As someone who was born at Corbar I intend to fight any closure tooth and nail and I am sure the people of Buxton and the surrounding area value Corbar as much as I do. I’ve spoken to the chief executive (of the health trust) and left him in no doubt as to my opinion.”
The future of Darley Birth Centre at the Whitworth Hospital, Darley Dale is also being reviewed.