Single siting before safety?

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I WELL remember the first time I was introduced to Amber Rudd, at the time the prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hastings. Along with other members of the Hands off the Conquest campaigners we had been staging an all-day vigil outside the Conquest Hospital in protest of the proposals to single site consultant-led maternity services.

Amber Rudd joined the campaigners that evening, staying with us for about two hours. It was heartening to hear her comments that she considered single siting unsafe and fully supported our efforts in opposing the proposals due to concern over the safety of mothers and babies.

In last week’s Observer Amber Rudd’s comment supporting single siting was, “This decision has been driven by safety for mothers and babies”.

The fight to retain two consultant-led maternity units was won when the Independent Reconfiguration Panel considered that due to the poor road infrastructure single siting was unsafe. Nothing has changed, apart from increases in birth rates and traffic on the road, since the decision was made to retain two consultant-led maternity units.

It seems ironic to be writing this letter on a day when, due to the snow, the traffic has come to a standstill. I would be interested to hear Ms Rudd’s comments on the outcome of a mother suffering an obstetric emergency in a midwife-led unit at the DGH hospital, on a day like this, when the NICE guidelines are ‘Thirty minutes from decision to incision’.

Due to the poor infrastructure single siting consultant-led maternity services is still an unsafe option. The trust quotes that the current maternity services are not sustainable on safety grounds, to continue as they are.

Perhaps Ms Rudd, considering her previous views on single siting, would be better taking the trust to task for not being able to provide safe maternity services rather than supporting single siting.

M J PARRIS

Bower Close

St Leonards

Amber Rudd responded: “The Independent Reconfiguration Panel previously agreed to support dual siting based on changes to the staffing and specific recruitment targets. Have they taken place? The answer is no. The Trust has been unable to recruit sufficient staff to maintain 2 safe units. Who would support two units if they are actually unsafe? Given that the situation has changed, we must support the proposals that promote safety for mothers and babies. “