as MP for Solihull I have mixed with many parents at schools, nurseries, toddlers and child minding groups across the constituency, as well as with new mums and dads at Solihull Hospital itself. Parents always speak very highly of their own experiences of Solihull maternity services.
Indeed, my own daughter is expecting her baby within the next month, so I understand how important it is to have good access to local maternity services.
Why then, should we be presented with a plan to transfer 75 per cent of births away from our much loved Solihull Hospital?
It is my experience that any fundamental change in public services is usually preceded by a ‘review’ to ensure ‘the best possible outcome for service users’ - in this case expectant mums - and so it is with maternity services in Solihull.
The council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be asked. BEN (Birmingham East and North Primary Care Trust) will be asked. I will be asked. So when will mums get a say on Solihull’s maternity services?
Following a meeting with Sally Burton, the chief executive of Solihull’s Care Trust last week, I have been told that they are currently seeking preferred ways for the consultation to be made available to all residents in Solihull, and that they hope to make this available in the autumn.
The Maternity Service at Solihull Hospital currently runs on a rotation of paediatric consultants. If a baby is born with unexpected complications, the new rules say there must be a specialist paediatrician no further than 10 minutes away at all times, and there must be a midwife trained in umbilical catheterisation at all times (that’s administering adrenaline through the umbilical cord).
If that is what the standard should be, it certainly is not for me to argue with. What I do argue with, however, is the substitution of our current maternity service for a midwife-led service. Not because midwives aren’t the unsung heroes of the health service, but because mothers in Solihull who don’t have potentially complicated births should be able to have their babies here.
I have proposed a rotation of paediatricians and trained midwives between Solihull and Heartlands. That way specialists get the constant exposure to complicated births that Heartlands provides, and would also then be able to give a first class service to Solihull mums too. Sally Burton has agreed to ‘model’ this and I look forward to hearing her response.
I have also written to every woman in Solihull constituency asking for your support. My letter and petition should arrive, delivered by volunteers, over the next few weeks. Please take two minutes and return your petition form as soon as you receive it.
Lorely Burt, MP for Solihull