CAMPAIGNERS gathered in Solihull town centre on Wednesday (September 9) and marched en masse to Solihull Hospital to meet Trust boss Mark Goldman pleading for a halt to plans to downgrade maternity services.
Amid a sea of pink and blue balloons, the rally, organised by Meriden MP Caroline Spelman (Con) and Prospective MP for Solihull, Maggie Throup, saw supporters including Shadow Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley, Mr Jeremy Rowbotham, retired hospital consultant who has delivered over 28,000 babies in Solihull and local pantomime star Malcolm Stent.
The rally continued to Solihull Hospital where campaigners handed over a letter to Dr Goldman, chief executive of Heart of England Foundation Trust, deploring the proposal to remove high risk births from the hospital from April 2010.
Dr Goldman insisted, however, that any changes were in line with new national guidelines to make maternity units safer particularly resuscitation of the newborn. “The new regulations say that a paedetrician should be available in 10 minutes and with the best will in the world we can’t get a paedetrician from Heartlands to Solihull in that time. So it is right and proper to look at alternative ways which accord with the very best practice.”
Ms Throup said: “We are not prepared to let the hospital be closed by stealth and will fight to the bitter end to ensure Solihull families have the maternity services locally they really deserve.”
Mother-of-one Laura Guy was in Mell Square with six-week-old daughter Jessica, backing the campaign. She said: “I had my baby at Solihull Hospital and the staff there were fantastic. I had a fairly straightforward delivery with a few complications but I live only five minutes away. I think we are not a small town so why downgrade? The midwives at Heartlands say that they can’t cope as it is.”