Prime Minister Refuses to Assure 24 Hour Consultant Led Maternity Service

  • The Prime Minister has responded to Jamie Reed MP’s letter calling for her to intervene to ensure the retention of 24 hour consultant led services at the West Cumberland Hospital
  • She states that “…the Success Regime considers a general consensus exists amongst clinicians that a consultant-led maternity unit is unsustainable in Whitehaven”
  • Consultation exposed as “expensive sham”
  • Copeland MP Calls for Prime Minister to see for herself the risk of removing services from the West Cumberland Hospital

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-12-47-22West Cumbrian MP, Jamie Reed, has received a response from the Prime Minister, to his letters calling for the retention and improvement of vital 24 hour consultant led services at the West Cumberland Hospital.  

In her response, Theresa May indicated her endorsement for the Success Regime preferred option to remove the 24 hour consultant led maternity service from the West Cumberland Hospital. With reference to an open letter, penned by local midwives in support of the retention of the service, and repeated warnings from consultants based at the West Cumberland Hospital, Mrs May wrote “I am advised that, whilst there are some dissenting views as outlined in your letter, the Success Regime considers a general consensus exists amongst clinicians that a consultant-led maternity unit is unsustainable in Whitehaven”.

This news comes less than two weeks after Health Minister Philip Dunne MP’s visit to the Hospital, during which time he met with two new mothers who had been admitted as low risk cases. Both had experienced unforeseen difficulties, and both they and medical staff at the West Cumberland Hospital made it clear to the Minister that the transfer to Carlisle would have resulted in fatal consequences. 

This news also comes less than a week since Mrs May’s comment during Prime Minister’s Questions that “what matters is a safe maternity service for mother and baby”.

The Copeland MP has now renewed his call to the Prime Minister, inviting her to visit the West Cumberland Hospital to “see for herself the immediate need for the retention and improvement of 24 hour consultant led services, and [to] meet those women and their babies whose lives would be risked if proposals that she supports come into fruition”.

The Copeland MP also put the following question to the Prime Minister during today’s (19th October) PMQs:

‘Local clinicians are absolutely clear that the removal of 24 hour consultant led maternity services from the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven will cost lives. Ultimately, this is a decision that will have to be made by this government. Will the Prime Minister please visit my constituency and see for herself the consequences that approving such a baseless proposal will have upon families, women and children in West Cumbria?

The exchange can be found online here at 12:37:17.

Copeland MP, Jamie Reed said:

“By refusing to intervene to ensure a safe maternity service for mother and baby, and by indicating support for proposals to remove 24 hour consultant led services from the West Cumberland Hospital, the Prime Minister has both undermined the Success Regime consultation process, and done a great disservice to families in West Cumbria. Tragically, the consultation has now been exposed as an expensive sham.

“It does not appear to be enough for the Prime Minister that a Government Minister has now seen for himself that the removal of 24 hour consultant led services from the West Cumberland Hospital would be dangerous. I therefore renew my invitation, to which I am yet to receive a response, for the Prime Minister to visit the West Cumberland Hospital. She must see for herself the immediate need for the retention and improvement of 24 hour consultant led services, and meet those women and their babies whose lives would be at risk if proposals that she supports come into fruition.

“It is unacceptable for the Prime Minister to talk of maternity safety, and refuse to ensure it in West Cumbria. It is shocking that the Secretary of State for Health can provide assurances to maternity services in North Devon, and yet refuse to do the same for my community.

“Here in West Cumbria, we are working hard to build the bright future that we have been working towards for over a decade. Ultimately it is the Government that will decide upon the changes to hospital services in Cumbria. We cannot allow the Government to continue to ignore the needs of West Cumbrians”.

 

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