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4.30PM UPDATE - MATERNITY REACTION: ‘Expectant mothers have been driven away’

Plans have been announced today to close Grantham’s Midwife-Led Maternity Unit.

NHS Lincolnshire has released its Shaping Health for Mid Kesteven report today in which it proposes closing the unit and transferring it elsewhere.

A consultation has been launched on the proposal but no alternative is being offered. Instead people are being asked whether they:

- agree strongly with this change

- agree with this change

- disagree with this change

- disagree strongly with this change

5pm - The Journal is awaiting comments from MP Nick Boles, South Kesteven District Council and Lincolnshire County Council for their views on the proposal to close Grantham’s maternity unit. All three comments are unlikely to come until tomorrow so here are some more views from Journal readers via our Facebook page:

Abigail Louise Curtis: Such sad news...the town is meant to be growing, plans for 1000’s of new homes and yet our hospital is slowly being closed down before our very eyes...and we are powerless!

Pamela Fitton: It’s so wrong this maternity unit is amazing, we had our little girl there 8months ago and had the best experience we could have hoped for. She was our second child and our first birth wasn’t as great at a bigger hospital. At the Grantham unit you are a person not just a number your given the best care and it should be kept open for other mums to be to experience this kind of care when they need it most. We should do what ever we can to keep this unit open!

Lisa Ellen Rosemurgey Newmark: I had both of my daughters at the midwife unit in Grantham and have so much praise for the unit! It was a lovely environment and didn’t feel at all clinical which was one of my main reasons for initially wanting a home birth. The team of midwives there are amazing and I have urged so many friends to chose this unit over Peterborough. What a loss this unit will be!

Supadoopa Nikki Mcguffie: ive just found out im pregnant and asked to have my baby at grantham im gutted if they close ive been told that at grantham there lovely

it will get to the point where we wont have a hospital at this rate, fare enough we dont have the facilities if theres any problems but come on grantham needs it.

Send us your views to comment@granthamjournal.co.uk or go to our Facebook page at www.facebook/granthamjournal to join the debate

4.30pm - United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust is backing the plans to “transfer” the maternity unit away from Grantham.

A spokesman said: “The maternity unit at Grantham delivers an excellent service to the women who use it, and we are delighted that there will be no changes to the post natal, antenatal and home birth services.

“However, we recognise that changes need to be made to ensure the services provided from the hospital are right for whole of the local population in the future and this includes birthing options for women. Statistics show that women are not choosing to use the midwifery-led unit and alternatives need to be discussed throughout the public consultation to provide women with the options that meet their needs.

“This may include increased home birthing or increased capacity for referrals to a midwifery-led unit alongside an existing obstetric unit.

“We know that Grantham Hospital is highly regarded by local people, which is a tribute to the staff working there.”

4pm - Here’s what NHS Lincolnshire has said about the maternity unit closure in their press release today entitled “A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR HEALTH SERVICES IN & AROUND GRANTHAM HOSPITAL”:

“Less than 2 per cent of women are choosing to give birth at the Grantham Midwifery Led Birthing Unit (which follows the same criteria as a home birth).

“The numbers have been declining over recent years, with only 100 births at the unit last year* in comparison to 3897 at Lincoln and 2160 at Boston. It is proposed to relocate the midwifery led birthing unit next to an Obstetric Unit, however all antenatal and postnatal care will remain at Grantham Hospital.”

NHS Lincolnshire compares the number of births at Grantham Hospital (less than 100) with the number of births as Boston (2,160).

However, Boston has an Obstetric Unit. If Grantham had such a unit how many of the 2,370 women a year to visit Grantham Hospital for their antenatal and postnatal care would also give birth at Grantham Hospital?

3pm - County and district councillor Ray Wootten, although a member of the Shaping Health for Mid Kesteven board which is recommending the closure of the maternity unit, voted against closing the unit.

Coun Wootten welcomes moves to secure the future of the A&E department but is concerned by the decision to close the maternity unit.

He said: “It is excellent news that the future of Grantham Hospital has been secured particular with the predicted growth in population. Also welcome is the opportunity to have more outpatient services including general surgery.

“My concern is for the future of the Midwifery Led Birthing Unit. Expectant mothers are choosing to give birth at other hospitals rather than at Grantham and numbers have been falling over the years.

As part of the Shaping Health Board I shall be attending a number of consultation events in “Grantham where I welcome listening to residents views on these proposals.”

Coun Wootten’s wife, former Mayoress Linda Wootten was more outspoken against the proposals.

She said: “I just cannot understand why the unit has not been promoted more. It is a well run peaceful environment and even contains a birthing pool. But due to the fact that there is no Consultant Obstetric care, expectant mothers have literally been driven away.

“It seems like madness to have to travel so far away to give birth but I do understand the reasons why.

“Money is being invested elsewhere in other maternity hospitals which seems to suggest that we are looking at a possible closure.

“Nationally only 2.5% of births take place at home/midwifery units, so please make your views known at the forthcoming consultation events.”

2pm - Chairman of SOS Grantham Hospital Charmaine Morgan told the Journal there are plans to campaign against the closure.

Having met with members of the commissioning group who made the decision, she said: “I feel very strongly it is wrong to close that unit.

“They have said there are not enough mothers having babies at Grantham Hospital and that not enough women are choosing to use the unit but I said that’s because you have not delivered what we are asking for.

“We want a paediatrician-led unit at the midwife-led unit. They have failed to bring in the skilled people needed for mothers to feel confident they can have their baby there.”

11.30am - The Journal broke the story at midnight.

Here’s some of the reaction we’ve had on our Facebook page:

Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Darmon: I would be gutted if we lost it. Had my daughter here nearly 18 months ago and comparing my labour story to that of others it was near perfect. I felt at ease and really homely and Grantham is the only place I would have anymore of my children born! How sad

Roxie J C Ball: If they stopped sending everyone to Lincoln for the smallest things there might be more births. I want to have my second child at Grantham yet they still want me to go Lincoln, they have in booked my induction in already just so that if I am overdue they have no choice but to let me stay in Grantham.

Vivien Wright: Absolutely awful trying to close Grantham hospital my daughter had her baby there 8 months ago it was so good. Experienced midwives. Although she had a long labour I have nothing but praise for Grantham hospital. As as granny I was there to witness the event. Don’t close it.

Dee Gray: I was fortunate to have 2 sons born there, when it was the full unit. Was admitted and looked after really well. Babies safely delivered and we were well looked after for 5 or more days. Gone are the days!! I have happy memories of my times in there and no way should it be closed. Grantham has a large enough population to keep this unit as it was, not just for ‘easy, non complicated births’ but for all mums, with full staff. My son had to drive to Lincoln for the births of his children, in the snow!! If the people who make these decisions have the decency to take everything into account...they will get this unit up and running with full time staff!

Vicki Parker: I had my little boy nearly 2 years ago at Grantham and its the only place I wanted to have him, don’t like the ‘hospital’ feeling so was my perfect choice...plus it’s the only place in Lincolnshire to have a permanent birthing pool. I seem to recall Lincoln ward being ‘closed’ quite often from during my pregnancy and ones of friends, due to high demand, so well done to the genius that thinks its a great idea to stretch resources further, no doubt some bigwig from some city that has never experienced a birth at the unit let alone spoke to the people that have!!! Also the midwives that work at Grantham mmu are a fantastic, I couldn’t have asked for a better birthing experience.

Becky Ashwin: Many mums want 2 have their babies at grantham but r refused for maybe a slight thing. E.g me because i had a not so great time with first. Was turn down with second even though everything went fine. And i cud have had my second little girl their...

Wrong decision closin the ward i think...

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