Staff shortage fears raised

NHS DERBYSHIRE County have confirmed that Stepping Hill Hospital was closed for new maternity admissions eight times in the last year.

Between 2010/11, there were eight occasions where one or more patients had to be diverted to an alternative unit as close to their home as possible, the trust have said. There were no occasions during the same period when Macclesfield hospital closed for new maternity admissions.

NHS Derbyshire County are currently reviewing the future of Corbar Birth Centre as part of plans to make savings as demand for NHS services rises. If the decision was made to close Corbar, High Peak women would then have to choose whether to have their baby at Stepping Hill, 18 miles away, or Macclesfield hospital, a distance of 13 miles.

Many people have raised concerns that this would place an even greater strain on the two already busy units.

In last week’s Buxton Advertiser, we told how Lauren Faulkner was turned away from Stepping Hill in March – despite thinking she was in labour – because the unit was full.

And the situation is also exacerbated by a lack of midwives nationally, with the Royal College of Midwives claiming that around 4,700 new midwives are needed in England to cope with an increasing number of births.

But NHS Derbyshire County have said that they are confident there is enough maternity provision for the High Peak.

“Although there has been an increase in births nationally, this has not been the case in the High Peak. The population of 15-44 year old women is projected to fall with the birth rate not expected to increase,” the PCT said.

“In line with national guidance, we have significantly invested in our maternity services to support both an increase in midwives and a number of other changes, including offering a wider choice of antenatal and postnatal provision and the employment of midwifery support workers to work alongside qualified midwives.

“We are only reviewing where the births are taking place. Should Corbar close, all antenatal and postnatal care will continue to be provided by midwives locally.

“An additional birthing room will be available at the birth centre at Stepping Hill, while Macclesfield has had a brand new midwife-led unit.

“We are confident that we have enough staff and facilities available for High Peak women to have their babies at home, in a midwifery-led unit or where appropriate under hospital team care.”

And on the rare occasions when the numbers of women in labour were greater than the number planned, the hospitals would do everything they could to support women to remain there or secure them a place at an alternative hospital as close to home as possible.