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Cutback? It’s the gold standard

Your front page article last week on the supposed slashing of maternity services at Solihull Hospital was very misleading.

Your front page article last week on the supposed slashing of maternity services at Solihull Hospital was very misleading.

It made it seem as though the unit was under threat of closure. As you read on, it became clear that this is simply not true. Solihull maternity unit has for many years been operating with no paediatric cover, making it unavailable to high-risk women anyway.

Introducing a midwife-led unit at Solihull will officially give the remaining low-risk women more choice when it comes to place of birth. Allowing women who don’t need access to doctors the chance to give birth to their babies with dedicated midwives by their side getting the gold standard of care which is known as One mother One midwife.

This is the best for Solihull women, and should be seen as an upgrade not a downgrade as mentioned in the article.

Has Councillor Ryan bothered to ask the women who are using this service right now, whether they feel that choice is important to them, because I believe they are the only people who have the right to petition against such a service.

As a mother of four children, who has volunteered her services over the last 8 years to help women have a better birth in this area, I welcome and celebrate the choice for pregnant women in Solihull.

Sallyann Beresford

via e-mail


Best for mum

PATIENT safety is key to the service we deliver and, following the recent changes to national advice and guidance on standards for delivering a safe maternity service, we need to review services to ensure that we continue to provide the very best for our patients.

In light of the new guidance, our view is that Solihull should be a delivery unit only for mothers with low risk pregnancies. Antenatal would continue to be delivered from Solihull Hospital for all mothers, but those wanting to deliver at a unit with full obstetric and neonatal services, and those not in the lowest risk group, would be referred to other hospitals for delivery.

This decision needs to be based on providing safe care for mothers-to-be and their babies.

The current arrangement of doctors travelling from Heartlands to Solihull Hospital in an emergency is, under this new guidance, no longer one which we as clinical professionals believe is in the best interests of the newborn.

What will provide the safest possible service for mothers-to-be at Solihull would be a high standard quality midwifery led unit, supporting those who have normal low risk pregnancies with no anticipated problems around the time of delivery. All other mothers would be better served from another unit which has specialist facilities and staff.

We are keen to discuss this with patients and the public to seek their advice and support for this change.

We want to explain why we believe this change is in the best interests of mothers and babies and why this decision is needed now. All alternatives have been fully explored before coming to this proposal, which we believe is in the best interests of our patients.

Dr Mike Watkinson – neonatal consultant, Dr Alex Philpott – clinical lead for neonatology, Dr Titus Ninan - consultant paediatrician and clinical director and Vikki Collins – senior midwife manager, Heartlands Hospital


Short changed

I WOULD like to object in the strongest terms to the proposed downgrading of maternity services at Solihull Hospital.

Solihull covers a wide area with many young families. Services are needed here. Why should women in labour have to travel the extra distance to Heartlands Hospital?

Where will the extra staff and bed capacity come from at Heartlands Hospital? If there is money available for the increase of this capacity then why is there any need to save money at Solihull? Once again Solihull residents are being let down and short-changed. We should not allow it to happen.

S Partridge, Woodrow Crescent, Knowle


More cuts

WITH regard to your front page story concerning the maternity service at Solihull Hospital. They say this is not a cost cutting exercise, which leg are they pulling?

Here we go again. Solihull Hospital’s multi-million pound deficit, and the ones who are going to take the brunt of this are the mums of Solihull, closing down the labour ward, only having a skeleton staff – ‘with no specialist on site’.

I would like to know how they came to this decision, do not tell me they have got better facilities at Heartlands and Good Hope. If that is the case, so should Solihull. Solihull is a large borough and needs an up-to-date hospital which can serve its ratepayers.

James, Solihull


Safety is paramount

SAFETY standards at Solihull Hospital Maternity Unit have been compromised since 1996 when neonatologists first withdrew from this site (they have since been based at Heartlands Hospital).

It can take 50 minutes (as it did in one case) for the paediatric team from Heartlands Hospital to reach Solihull Hospital by ambulance and this was simply too late to save this newborn.

How many newborns have been adversely affected by this level of care? How many deaths? How many payouts? A newborn’s life is valued at £15,000. How much would it cost to staff a tier of paediatricians round the clock for seven days a week?

Last year there were 2,784 deliveries at Solihull Hospital. However, the number of deliveries and in particular the number requiring instrumentation and operations has been steadily rising over the years.

It is not possible to provide medical care to mothers and babies to the standards required these days. Legally binding requirements coming into effect from April 2010 mean that the current level of staffing and training is simply not enough.

However, this is not just a financial argument. There are simply just not the staff out there to recruit.

Whistle-blowers lose jobs so I wish to remain anonymous.


Journey is too long

AS a grandmother but also as a midwife and midwife teacher for 13 years in a busy maternity unit, albeit in the late 1940s and early 50s, I know from experience how quickly a potentially normal birth can turn into an abnormal one.

I therefore object strongly to the making of the maternity unit at Solihull Hospital into a midwife only service.

I also travel by ambulance to Heartlands Hospital twice a month and I know how long the journey can take in heavy traffic. I am sure therefore that babies will be lost, even perhaps mothers, because of this change.

So I would like to add my name to the protestors against the plans to slash maternity services at Solihull Hospital.

Mrs A Owen, Cambridge Avenue, Solihull


Scoring points

I FEEL I have to put pen to paper regarding the proposed changes to the maternity services at Solihull Hospital.

I have to say that I find it amazing how many people have come out of the woodwork at the chance of furthering their profile by making decisions on behalf of Solihull ‘mums to be’.

I would think that at the prospective birth of their baby, these Mums and Dads’ first consideration and priority would be for the birth to take place where, if anything went wrong, speedy professional interventions could take place to save either or both mother and baby.

Patient safety should be key to any decision and I have spoken to clinicians at the hospital and think that we, the public, should listen to and seek the advice of those people who deliver the service and not external agencies who are seeking to make a political point.

Come on ‘mums to be’, let your wishes be known, it’s your choice.

GNR, Solihull


No to bike lane

Walking is free and sociable. Cycling is anti social and incurs costs associated with bikes and its repairs (Letters).

A report by the Scottish Government reports cycling to be more dangerous than walking especially for children aged 12-16.

If a child currently walks to school they will not start to cycle just by the introduction of a cycle path. Therefore I would question the value of investing money in creating a cycle path in the park. Also many would still just cut across the park grass as they do anyway.

A better investment would be:

a) Effective road sense awareness for the pupils as their behaviour around the road are appalling eg pushing people into road, jumping out in front of cars. This will not alter with a new park cycle path.

b) Investing in a wider path on Station Road as some fall off the pavement.

c) Active penalties for parents who stop and drop off in illegal unsafe areas.

Concerned Parent


A Knowle decision

CYCLING is the least popular means of getting to Arden School.

Arden’s own figures show that 70-80 per cent prefer to walk or cycle and 86 per cent are happy with their current arrangements. The national average for walking and cycling is about 44 per cent.

It is a pity passionate cyclist Stephen Holt, not a resident of Knowle, seems to want to stop Knowle residents having their say about the controversial bike routes to Arden School through our park.

Arden meets all government targets for walking or cycling.

The scheme is to cost £ 210,000, at a time of great hardship for many.

Mr Holt, chairman of the Solihull Cycle Steering Group, a local bike pressure group, wishes to stop Knowle residents having the rightful say as to whether our park and roads should dug up be or not.

Coun Jeff Potts, Knowle


Local race track

IF Mr Holt of Bentley Heath lived in St Lawrence Close he would not be in favour of more cyclists. The ‘footpath’ leading into the park crosses private land although very few people know it.

Some of the residents are elderly and disabled like myself. I have been a resident for 30 years and have seen accidents and near misses, scooters and even a motorcycle on this path. Widening the paths will make the park a race track!

Joyce Gilbert, via e-mail


Thanks Stephen

I WOULD like to thank Stephen Holt and all the other helpers who make Cyclesolihull so enjoyable. It has given me confidence to cycle around Solihull. I am sure there is a lot of planning that goes into the cycle rides and I really appreciate it.



Appalling work

I HAVE to agree with Richard Taylor`s comments about a ‘heathen way to resurface a road’ in your June 26 issue (Letters). Several roads in the Knowle area have had this treatment over the last couple of weeks. Apart from the loose stone chips on the road, pavements, drives, grass verges and in the drains, the standard of work is appalling.

A good example is the stretch of Tilehouse Green Lane from Longdon Road to Hallcroft Way. I suggest the council inspect this road and judge if it was worth doing the work at all.

David Gosling, Knowle


Chip road rage

AS you travel around the Solihull and Warwickshire especially over the last few weeks you must be asking yourself why so much money is being wasted on temporary road surfacing that barely lasts two hours.

In Hampton-in-Arden this type of dressing was carried out last year in the rain which again meant that the chippings did not adhere and made the roads have ridges.

With all the chipped windscreens and the time spent in the traffic jams the true cost is unbelievable for something that is pointless in the first place.

Pete Robbins, via e-mail


Sign of the times

I AM referring to Mr Richard Taylor’s letter on ‘Road rage’ published in your June 26 issue (Letters).

Tar and stones that were used to ‘resurface’ the streets of Solihull is whitewash to cover the potholes. Proper resurfacing is something the council can not afford as the money is still in Icelandic banks. Forty years ago when I was cycling on the empty highways of then communist Poland this was the most popular way to improve their appearance. The economic crisis in the UK seems to be deeper than we all realise.

Chris Tubielewicz, Knowle


Can do better

IS anybody else fed up of the way Yew Tree Medical Centre works?

You have to book first thing in the morning exactly a week in advance, and the receptionists don’t even seem to care if you are ill.

They have offered a questionnaire to fill in several times which I have, but nothing seems to have been done to suit people’s needs.

I have spoken to many people about this problem and they feel the same way as I, and many other people belonging to different surgeries can phone and have an appointment that same day or whichever day they want it.

They also need someone to man the phones over lunch hour as if you can’t get to the phone any other time it causes problems.

I honestly think that something needs to be done about this booking system, to improve the customer services.

Resident of Damson Wood, Solihull


Get real Ed

THE naivety of Ed Williams, Labour PPC for Meriden, in his comments on the lifestyle of Caroline Spelman MP is astonishing.

Where has he been all his political life? Ms Spelman is a Conservative for goodness sake. And that is how affluent Conservatives live - big house, impressive front gates, bell tower, dovecote, moat, duck pond, cars for all occasions, designer clothes, enormous gas, electric, water bills etc.

Conservative MPs do not live in two-up, two-down dwellings in Chelmsley Wood, in a caravan in a clearing in Smith’s Wood, or a semi in Shirley.

I have spent 50 years in public life trying in vain to persuade people that it is not in their interests to be represented in Parliament by MPs who have no concept of the day-to-day problems of ordinary working people.

Lionel King, Chadwick End


Taking Faith

I WOULD like to thank Ann Polson from Solihull Methodist Church - what a brilliant Faith Matters article (Solihull News). How well she explains God’s love to us, and the way we can all experience it. I hope a lot of people have read it this week and bless you all at the Solihull News for printing it.

Can I just say, without taking anything away from this exellent piece, John 3 v 16 says that God loves us so much, that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Anyway back to Ann, I am sure that your hanging baskets will be gorgeous this year. Bless you Ann.

P Thomas, Baxters Road, Shirley


Club fears

WE were interested to read a copy of the Birmingham & Solihull RFC planning application information leaflet and pleased to note that the club believes it has a responsibility to actively support the local community, although this appears to be a relatively recent belief.

While we applaud the 670 hours of qualified coaching to local children, this falls a long way short of the 3,742 hours included in their budget for 2008/09.

This support comes at a cost, and at £30-50 per hour it is far higher than that charged by other local organisations who are charging £20-25 per hour, which is in effect an ongoing subsidy to the club by the ratepayers of some £76,000 per annum over the five-year period of their business case. It is stated at the bottom of the leaflet that the community services could not be provided if the relocation is unsuccessful although we fail to see why.

We are principally concerned with the permanent loss of this green space amenity should the development go ahead, particularly when it was provided to the council by the generous gift of a lady who lived in Sharmans Cross Road.

As the club at that time could not afford to drain the pitches the council carried out the work, taking over the freehold and leasing it back to the club at a nominal £250 per annum with a covenant that the facility was to be used solely for sporting purposes by the borough residents.

Although a private club it has open membership to all those interested in rugby and thus available to all who wish to take advantage of this green space.

Within the planning application there is a proposal that the council should release the freehold without charge.

This would mean yet another subsidy by the ratepayers of some £2m. At the same time they ask that they should be absolved from making any ‘social’ or ‘affordable housing’ payment to the council which could be up to another £2m.

It would be a tragic loss to the community should this facility be lost for all time, particularly as there is by no means any certainty that the new shared facility will prove to be commercially viable and therefore may not survive.

Roy and Beryl Hukin, Sharmans Cross Road, Solihulll



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