But fears and concerns are not a good enough reason for the health trust to rethink their proposals to close Corbar and the Darley Birth Centre in Darley Dale for births.
Speaking in a 12-minute video in which he answers key questions about the plans, David Sharp, the trust’s chief executive, says he wants the public to be involved in the discussions about the future of Corbar and that the decision will be made in an open and honest way, and not in a back room.
He adds: “I do want the public to talk because we are able to be shifted on this one but it has to be more than a generalised fear and concern of a diminished NHS service. It has to be about real value that is going to be foregone if we stop this proposal taking place.
“The NHS makes its best decisions when it makes honest ones in public. I’ve been honest about where I stand on these units. I’m willing to take that conversation to the public.
“I want to have that conversation with the public, I don’t want that to be in a back room but I must emphasise that fear and concern is not a sufficient reason for us not to carry on with this proposal.”
In the video, Mr Sharp also addresses some of the issues that have been raised by local people since the review was revealed in the Buxton Advertiser in May.
Many residents have raised concerns over the extra travelling that would be involved to get to maternity units at Stockport’s Stepping Hill Hospital or Macclesfield District General Hospital and fears that babies would be born in ambulances on the way to hospital.
But Mr Sharp responded by pointing out that mums currently travel further distances.
He said: “I have to say that outside of the area served by Corbar and Darley, mums continue to travel much greater distances than that to get services elsewhere in Derbyshire.
“Derbyshire has a mixture of rural and urban areas and people do travel for receiving their health services.
“This idea of being stranded on the A6 in the winter on the way to Stockport is the one that I find the hardest to go through because if that was true for maternity services it would be true for people with cancer, people with dementia, people who’ve had falls, and I think it would disregard the work that we do with Derbyshire County Council to make sure that emergency preparedness is really really high in the winter.
“It’s very noticeable that when you get some of the stories about that type of occurrence happening – and I’m not saying that it didn’t really happen – but often that is a folk memory of things that might have been true in a winter in 1961.
“I know that even in December last year – one of the harshest winters we’d had in a long, long time – women who turned up at Corbar and Darley were women who had pre-arranged sessions. They weren’t turning up in distress in early hours in unplanned ways. It simply did not fulfil that part of the NHS offering to those mothers.”
During the formal engagement process, local people can have their say on the plans online, by email, post or by attending one of the public meetings that will be held.
An engagement form has been developed which asks for people’s views on the services received, the PCT’s funding of the services and for their concerns and how they can be addressed should Corbar close for births in the future.
A final decision on the future of Corbar will be made by the NHS Derby City and NHS Derbyshire County Cluster Board in November.
More details about the review of Corbar, the engagement form, and how you can respond are available on the trust’s website at www.derbyshirecounty.nhs.uk.