A POLITICAL row has broken out over planned cuts in maternity services at Solihull Hospital, with one borough councillor accusing others of stirring up trouble.
Labour councillor Mick Corser, who is chairman of Solihull’s Health Scrutiny Board, launched his attack after a campaign was started to stop Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust moving ahead with proposals to no longer carry out complicated births at the hospital.
It wants to launch a midwife-led unit catering for “low risk” births, which campaigners say would mean some pregnant women having to travel several miles to Heartlands Hospital at Bordesley Green in Birmingham or Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield to give birth.
The campaign is being spearheaded by Conservative councillor Jim Ryan and the Tories’ prospective parliamentary candidate for Solihull, Maggie Throup, who have launched a protest petition and set up a “Save Solihull’s Maternity Services” website.
They say they were “overwhelmed” by the support local residents gave to the campaign when they set up a stall in Solihull town centre on Saturday and that they intend to collect more signatures this weekend in Shirley and Solihull.
Cllr Corser, who is leader of the Labour group on Solihull Council, said following the trust’s announcement about changes in maternity services - and representations made to him by residents - he had set up an inquiry to closely examine the proposals.
He added: “I am very concerned about the way certain councillors have used this announcement to whip up public concern when as yet, my scrutiny board has not been able to assess the facts.
“I ask those who are getting petitions signed to instead give clear evidence of their concerns to my board so we can consider the true effect of this proposal on local mothers.
“I will be urgently calling on the trust to come before us to explain their proposals. They can expect a thorough examination of their proposals and tough questions to be asked.
“If we are not satisfied that the people of Solihull are getting the service they deserve, then we shall be making sure that the strongest representations to the Secretary of State for Health are made. This issue is too important to be used as a political football.”
Cllr Ryan, who used to sit on the Labour benches with Cllr Corser until an acrimonious split with the group six years ago, said he had no doubt the Labour leader was referring to him primarily in his “certain councillors” remark.
“But I have no intention of responding to his comments, it would give him oxygen,” he said. “There’s a job to be done and the people will decide what’s right.”