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Farron: Kendal maternity unit needs 24/7 staffing

October 4, 2016 4:14 PM

Data showing that almost two thirds of babies born at Kendal's maternity unit were born out-of-hours shows why it must be staffed 24/7, according to South Lakeland MP Tim Farron.

In December 2014, temporary changes were introduced at the Helme Chase maternity unit which removed 24hr permanent cover. The changes have also seen the removal of post-natal care from the unit.

A County Council report shows that almost two thirds of babies born at Kendal's maternity unit were born out-of-hours. The report also highlights that, since the changes were introduced on a temporary basis at the end of 2014, there has been a reduction of more than a third in the number of births at the unit. Tim has described this as unsurprising, pointing out that if women are worried that there will not be staff at the unit, they are more likely to look to give birth elsewhere instead.

The Trust is currently consulting on plans to make these changes permanent. Tim is encouraging local residents to make their views known directly to the Trust. To take part in the consultation, go to http://www.cumbriaccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/Consultation/helme-chase.aspx or email comments to: Communications.Team@CumbriaCCG.nhs.uk

Tim said: "The notion that there are fewer births at night and at the weekends simply doesn't match up with the evidence. Babies are being born at all times of the night and day, and South Lakes women deserve a maternity service that recognises this need.

"Women in the South Lakes are worried that Helme Chase is offering a watered-down service, and are choosing to give birth elsewhere. I am extremely concerned that numbers using the service will drop to a point where health bosses decide the unit is no longer viable, and try to close it completely.

"I have expressed my concerns to the Trust both in meetings and through the consultation, and would urge local residents to make their views known before the consultation ends on the 4th November."