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Maternity unit decision 'lets down local mothers' - Farron

February 3, 2017 2:22 PM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has branded a decision by health bosses to permanently remove the 24hr permanent cover at the Helme Chase maternity unit in Kendal as "lets down local mothers".

The Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which makes decisions about local health services, decided this week to make permanent changes which were first introduced in December 2014 on a temporary basis. The changes removed 24hr permanent cover, and also saw the removal of post-natal care from the unit.

When the changes were first made, the CCG wrote that the changes "should only be accepted as a temporary solution" and made clear that commissioners expect "a return to the status quo at the earliest point".

Tim has long campaigned against the changes, and has been supported by over 1000 local residents who signed Tim's petition against the changes. Tim expressed his concerns to local health bosses both in meetings and during the formal consultation process.

Last year, Tim raised concerns about the changes after uncovering data showing that almost two thirds of babies born at Kendal's maternity unit were born out-of-hours.

The Helme Chase Unit will remain open, with a 24hr on-call midwifery service available.

Tim said: "I have long campaigned against these changes, and it is disappointing that the CCG has decided to make these changes permanent. This decision lets down local mothers, and leaves them with a watered-down service.

"The evidence shows that babies are being born at all times of the day and night, which is why I have been clear that we need a permanent 24hr service in Kendal. Women need to be confident that they will be able to access the services they need.

"Like many local women, my own wife gave birth at this unit, and it concerns me a lot that it is being downgraded. There is a danger that women will end up choosing to give birth elsewhere, and the number of births at the unit will drop until it is no longer viable. This must not be allowed to happen."