News and Events

Can our maternity wards cope?

  • Posted

The maternity units in Trafford, Rochdale, Salford and Bury Hospitals were axed in a bid to save costs. Yet, statistics illustrate there is an escalation in the number of babies being born in the North West.

How is this justifiable?

Midwives fear that if the birth rate rises further, they will not have capacity to deal with the demand. Midwifes believe the closure of the four maternity units will eventually result in chaos and overstretched staff.

However, health officials have professed that by axing the maternity units in Trafford, Rochdale, Salford and Bury Hospitals and improving the facilities at the new hospital ‘supercentres’ in Manchester, Bolton and Oldham we now have a ‘safer and sustainable service by concentrating staff and expertise into fewer, bigger, centres of excellence for overnight maternity, neonatal and children’s care.”

However, RCM regional officer Lesley Gaskell said: “We are concerned …Births in the super-centres are increasing…Central Manchester is now increasing almost up to full capacity. They are continuing to employ midwives, but we also have concerns that we have an ageing population of midwives coming up to retirement. We have concerns about the skill mix of newly qualified staff.”

The Office for National Statistics had predicted that birth rates in Manchester would increase to 33,642 by 2015, compared to 33,544 in 2005.  However, in 2010, there were in fact 37,876 births, statistics that are making midwives worry about coping with a potential baby boom.

Does this sound like a ‘safer and sustainable service?

While I welcome improvements within the National Health Service, I question whether axing the maternity units in 4 of our North-West hospitals was really the right answer?