Background: The local health authority (now called Primary Care Trusts) are planning to shut two highly valued maternity units in Wiltshire (at Malmesbury and at Devizes). This will worsen the service considerably and we don't believe it will even save any money. Small maternity units like these are valued by parents as they can provide much better one-to-one care and mothers tend to:
- have shorter labours
- need less surgery (like Caesarian sections)
- be more likely to breast feed afterwards
- be less likely to get post-natal depression
We plan to lobby a board meeting of Kennet and North Wiltshire Primary Care Trust (details at top of article).
We should get quite a loss of press coverage with this (Carlton TV have already been in touch) which will keep pressure on the PCT and let them know that we aren't going to go away. Pregnant women or women with small babies would make particularly good press, (of course men are welcome too!)
We are pleased to say that the board have invited NCT Trustee, Richard Hallett, to give his presentation about how small maternity units can be made cost effective in the afternoon (at a closed session of the meeting). We think it will make it easier for him if we have made it clear to all the members of the board again, just how unpopular their proposal is.
We are very concerned at how staff shortages are affecting maternity services. Since the consulation started, there has been a freeze on recruitment. This has lead to a situation where staff are working extra shifts and units have even come close to closing due to lack of staff!!
The PCT are considering extending the consultation period, which is of course something of a victory for us, but, if services and staff continue to be stretched as they are it could lead to closure 'through the back door'.
Please come and support us if you possibly can. A Home-made placards would be very welcome, placards about the staff shortages would be particularly topical. Let me know if you are able to come or have any suggestions.