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Health care hit by new crisis

SOLIHULL Hospital is battling to restore public confidence after the downgrading of maternity services was rubber stamped this week.

SOLIHULL Hospital is battling to restore public confidence after the downgrading of maternity services was rubber stamped this week.

The news comes amid fresh fears that scores of hospital beds could go in new cost-cutting plans.

As many as 700 beds could be lost across the region but it’s unclear exactly how many are at risk in Solihull.

Councillor Martin McCarthy, from Solihull’s health scrutiny committee, said: “It’s not specific so far.

“We will fight tooth and nail any attempt to downgrade services for patients in Solihull.

“Obviously we are very wary of any changes but we don’t know what’s involved.”

A Solihull Hospital spokesperson said: “We are not planning to close beds currently as demand for our services continues to rise.

“However we expect that all hospitals will steadily reduce beds in the future, as and when new community-based services are put in place.

“We are in the process of setting up a Partnership Board where all healthcare organisations will be represented along with members of the public so that any changes can be discussed and debated in full.”

Such a board has arrived too late to help the battle to save Solihull’s full maternity services which ended with a whimper on Wednesday.

Just 181 people took part in a consultation over plans to permanently turn the facilities into a midwife-led department - after the health trust announced it was going ahead with the plans.

This was in spite of angry rallies and a 3,000-strong petition, which was raised against the proposals last year.

Solihull MP Lorely Burt said in the end there was never any hope that hospital bosses would rethink the plans.

“I think since the day this consultation was announced, there was a sense that it was a fait accompli,” she said.

Of those few who took part in the 24-week consultation, 88.4 per cent agreed difficult births should no longer take place at Solihull.

Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust said the changes, announced in 2009, were needed to protect mums and babies.

In July last year, the maternity ward re-opened as a midwife-led unit, only capable of handling 300 births a year.

 

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