A CAMPAIGN laucnhed to preserve full maternity servies at Solihull Hospital got off to a flying start last weekend when thousands of people signed a petition in just a few hours.
Local campaigners Maggie Throup and Councillor Jim Ryan say they were were overwhelmed by the support residents gave to the campaign which had a street stall in Solihull High Street last Saturday.
Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust unveiled plans recently to scale down maternity services in Solihull with a midwife led unit catering for ‘low risk’ births.
Aroud 2,700 babies are currently delivered in Solihull each year but the proposal would see just a quarter of that number, with many mums to be forced to travel to Good Hope or Heartlands hospitals.
Last Saturday Ms Throup and Cllr Ryan, who were involved with the Save Solihull Hospital Campaign of the 1990s and a later campaign to rretain accident and emergecy provision at Solihull, were joined by a host of other helpers.
Between them they collected several thousand signatures on a petition in just four hours.
Ms Throup said: “Many residents made a special journey to Solihull just to sign the petition – the strength of feeling is so strong and everyone is adamant that we need full maternity services here in Solihull.
“Young couples move to Solihull to set down their roots for their future and they want to have their children where they live.”
Councillor Ryan (Con, Bickenhill) added: “We fought before to save our hospital and our A&E and we now have another huge battle to save our maternity services. People power is so key to the success of this campaign. With the backing of so many people, the NHS Trust has to listen to us.”
Campaigners will be collecting more signatures at this Friday and Saturday morning at the Farmers’ Market in the High Street.
Anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the petition to circulate among family and friends can obtain it by calling Cllr Ryan on 07746 785484.
And in line with the trend of e-campaigning a Facebook group - Save Solihull’s Maternity Services - has been set up.
A special website has also been created at www.savesolihullmaternity.co.uk.
Solihull MP Lorely Burt has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament on the subject as well as requesting an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State for Health Andrew Burnham.
A letter jointly signed by senior medical staff at the trust was received as the Solihull Times went to press defending the move.
Signed by Dr Mike Watkinson – neonatal consultant, Dr Alex Philpott – clinical lead for neonatology, Dr Titus Ninan - consultant paediatrician and clinical director and Vikki Collins – senior widwife manager it said: “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.”
They added that they were keen to discuss the proposal with patients and the public in order to explain why it was happening.