Maternity unit closure fears

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FURTHER to your article on the possible closure of the Conquest or EDGH maternity unit, and speaking as a father who a few years ago endured an ambulance journey along Brighton and Hove seafront with my labouring wife, so our first child could be delivered at the Royal Sussex, I would not wish on parents the length of journey that would result from closure of either unit.

Having said that, at a time of stringency in public finances and a well-acknowledged national shortage of midwives, campaigners should perhaps note what has happened in the area of children’s coronary surgery, where a panel of experts convened by NHS Specialised Services have decided to close a number of smaller children’s units in favour of larger centres.

The reason for this? Safety. It has been explicitly acknowledged that larger units offer a critical mass of professional ability with, for example, less need for referral to tertiary centres.

It’s difficult to see that this is not going to set a precedent for other specialities within the NHS, including maternity.

Should we as a community perhaps be campaigning for closure of both the EDGH and Conquest units in favour of a dedicated unit being built equidistant between the two towns.

I wouldn’t have thought this was a financially unreasonable proposition given the obscene amounts of money currently being shovelled into Private Finance Initiative projects elsewhere in the NHS.

JOHN OATES

Charles Road,

St Leonards