Michael Fabricant has backed the findings of Lichfield’s Expert Maternity Working Group which is calling for the preservation of maternity services in Lichfield. But Mr Fabricant argues "The local Health Authority has all the information it needs now from its so-called ‘informal’ consultation to make a decision to save the Victoria Hospital’s Maternity Unit. The consultation showed an overwhelming demand to keep the maternity unit intact in Lichfield. In addition, 15,149 people signed a petition to save the Victoria Hospital and its Maternity Unit. This was sent to the Secretary of State for Health, Alan Millburn, and copied to the Health Authority. No one can be in any doubt as to what local people want: an end to the deterioration in local health service provision. There is no need for a further consultation which will delay a decision being made and which will be costly to an already cash-strapped Health Authority. I fully support the aims of the Lichfield’s Expert Maternity Working Group and also of those who want to keep kidney dialysis and other services here in Lichfield".
The text of the latest statement of the Working Group now follows:
Towards the end of November, South Staffordshire Health Authority published the results of the informal consultation exercise on the future of Community Hospital Provision in South Staffordshire.
We have looked with great interest at the section on the future of maternity services, dealing with the Maternity Unit at the Victoria Hospital Lichfield.
We are delighted to find, as expected, that "….there was overwhelming support from professionals and users for the retention of the Maternity Unit at the Victoria Hospital…."
We now look forward to the publication of the "Formal Consultation Document", which is planned for January. We will be specially interested to see whether/how the Health Authority will incorporate the views of the thousands of respondents, including those of important national and local organisations, like the Royal College of Midwives, the National Childbirth Trust and the Primary Care Group, in their final proposal.
We are pleased to read that the Health Authority is reviewing the financial picture, after it was shown that the projected savings of £400,000, as quoted in the informal consultation document, were not achievable.
We also note that the Health Authority wants to further "clarify national policy". We expect that this will strengthen the case to retain the unit, as it works within many national policies and guidelines. The unit gives women the choice they are entitled to, provides local access to an important service, helps to deal with "Health Inequalities" and through the kind of care which is provided is likely to help to reduce the number of medical interventions, including Caesarean Sections.
On behalf of the "Expert Maternity Working Group"
Dr Gerbo Huisman
St Chads Health Centre
With regard to the clarification of national policy, Mr Fabricant has tabled two Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Health seeking information on Government policy towards midwife led maternity units.
South Staffordshire Health Authority claim they are unable to make a final decision regarding health services in Lichfield because of lack of Government clarity over health care priorities.