The health authorities are consulting residents on their proposals to spend £450million transforming hospital services across Leicestershire and Rutland.
People have only until December 21 to make their views known before a decision is made on the plans, which also include creating the first single-site dedicated children’s hospital in the East Midlands at Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI) and the expanding of Glenfield Hospital by a third to create a planned care treatment centre for operations and emergency procedures.
But the main focus for many Melton residents has been the push to centralise all major maternity centres in the city by relocating the town’s St Mary’s Birth Centre to a new midwifery-led service at the Leicester General and building a new maternity hospital at the LRI.
The local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) say the Melton baby unit is no longer viable when it has around 170 births a year compared to the 500 it needs to be cost-effective.
But thousands of people have signed petitions calling for St Mary’s to be retained and dozens of mums joined forces to create a moving video describing how the unit and the staff there gave them such caring service when they gave birth or attended for after-care.
And on Monday December 14, at 7.30pm, an online community forum will take place for residents to discuss how the proposals will impact on Melton borough and find out more about what is being planned.
The meeting will be chaired by Helen Cliff, from the campaign group Save St Mary’s Birth Centre, and guest speakers will be local borough and county councillor, Alan Pearson, and Sally Ruane, from the health policy research unit at De Montfort University, which recently published a report arguing that the unit should be kept open because it provides more choice for women living in the east of Leicestershire and in Rutland and because it provides excellent post-natal care.
You can register to attend the Zoom forum by emailing [email protected] to be sent an online link and log-in details to a Zoom meeting - call 07780 976547 if you need further information.
If St Mary’s Birth Centre is closed following the consultation, Ian Scudamore, consultant obstetrician and clinical director women’s and children’s services at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “Under our proposals, women in Melton would continue to receive care from an expanded team of community midwives, providing continuity of care throughout their pregnancies and after giving birth.
“We plan to have the same team of midwives available to provide care in labour to women who choose to have their babies at home or in the new standalone birth centre.
“These options for care would also be available to all women wherever they live in our area.”
A series of online consultation events on the proposals will finish this week on Saturday (2-3.30pm) and Sunday (2-3.30pm).
To join and online event or to see the full consultation document and complete the questionnaire survey, go online at www.betterhospitalsleicester.nhs.uk or email [email protected] for further details or alternatively call 0116 295 0750 to have a hard copy sent out to you.