MP opens talks over midwife services

The Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan, MP for Melton EMN-160612-151958001
The Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan, MP for Melton EMN-160612-151958001
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Melton MP Sir Alan Duncan has opened talks with the local health authority in an attempt to retain some midwifery services in Melton.

The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) announced last month it was planning to close St Mary’s Birth Centre in the town because only 170 babies are born there on average and it says there needs to be 350 to 500 annual births to make it sustainable.

The move would be part of a drive to centralise maternity services for Leicestershire and Rutland in Leicester.

The trust has indicated that the 17 full and part time midwives at the Melton birth centre would re-located to jobs in the new city-based set-up.

Mr Duncan sympathised with the concerns of parents and staff but said it was important to provde a service which was cost-effective.

He told the Melton Times: “We all want St Mary’s Hospital to flourish and none of us want to see midwives moved or made redundant. The NHS trust is duty bound to get value for money and I am talking to them to see if we can still keep some of the midwife services at the hospital.

“However, in the end they have to do what they believe provides the best healthcare for patients.”

A consultation into the proposed changes is expected to take place early in the new year and last for 12 weeks.

Melton Council leader, Councillor Pam Posnett, urged residents to have their say when they get their chance.

She said: “Obviously all of us have some regrets about what they are planning to do with the birth centre. But we need to look at the wider picture. The birth rate is lower in Melton. Some pregnant women in Melton decide to have their baby in Leicester and others don’t have a choice because there might be complications with the birth.

“Some mothers also elect to have their baby at home.

“We must guard against a knee jerk reaction to this although it is sad that we might be losing the centre.”

It has been suggested that the birth centre would be used much more in the coming years with more than 6,000 new homes earmarked to be built in the borough council’s draft version of the Local Plan.

Councillor Posnett added: “There are plans for more housing in the borough but it is important to realise that most of these houses won’t be built in 12 or 18 months, they will built over a 20-year period. It’s up to the people to put their argument across in the consultation and the council will do the same.”