THE shock closure of Solihull Hospital’s maternity unit will be for at least three months it emerged this week.
A Solihull NHS Care Trust and Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust board meeting on Wednesday saw health chiefs announce that the maternity ward would be temporarily closed to allow for staff retraining for a stand alone midwife unit which would only deal with low-risk births.
Premature and high-risk births requiring on-call paediatricians will be sent to the neonatal unit at Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital.
Mums-to-be will have the option to travel to Heartlands or Good Hope Hospitals during the interim.
Solihull Care Trust clarified that the introduction of a midwife led unit was simply ‘a question of safety’. Patrick Moore, SCT’s medical director said the hospital no longer complied with recommended best practice regarding the resuscitation of newborns - within 10 minutes when treated by a midwife with advanced neonatal and resuscitation skills and 30 minutes with back up from a consultant paeditrician.
Space will also be created at Heartlands for the expected extra deliveries with the transfer of the gynaecology unit at Heartlands to Solihull .
Chairman of Solihull Care Trust, Jenni Ord said the Trust were disappointed about the short timescale and were concerned that the public would fully understand the reasons behind the changes.
However Health chiefs assured those at the Board meeting there would be no redundancies or job losses among midwives when the changes are implemented although most are expected to move to Heartlands Hospital with some to Good Hope.
Present at the meeting were prospective Conservative MP, Maggie Throup and Lib Dem MP Lorely Burt who asked about the effects the changes would have on local people and staff .
Ms Throup said: “The fact that one in five mums are likely to be transferred during labour from the midwife-led unit to Heartlands or Good Hope did seem to come as a surprise to the Care Trust Board. I fear this will bring even greater risk, rather than less risk for the mums and babies of Solihull.”
“The Board also seemed surprised when I highlighted that NICE has increasing concerns about the effectiveness of stand-alone midwife-led units.
“I just hope the Board now does everything in its power to keep the interim measures in place at our hospital until the full consultation process is complete.
“To add weight to the Care Trust’s actions I have now contacted the Health Overview and Scrutiny Board to ask for the Foundation Trust’s premature decision to be called in and referred to the Independent Review Panel.”
Ms Throup has also been monitoring the changes to the ICU and first highlighted that there had been changes in September last year. She has now had reassurance from the Hospital Trust that the critical care beds are being reinstated at Solihull Hospital.