Furness MP John Woodcock will urge government ministers to get a grip of what he's calling the Furness General Hospital maternity crisis.
A debate will be held in the House of Commons today regarding the future of the Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and it's services.
It follows the decision to temporarily close the consultant-led maternity service and the special care baby unit. An investigation is currently underway into the deaths of babies and mothers at the hospital and the trust has received criticism over a number of failures.
Mr Woodcock said: “The sudden withdrawal of services has seriously shaken the people of Barrow and Furness, with expectant parents and young families especially concerned about the prospect of being forced to travel to Lancaster to have their babies."
The debate can be watched live via the parliament website.
We announced in November that clinicians had raised concerns regarding the ability to safely staff the SCBU at FGH and the action we were taking to mitigate against this risk, however this has now been overtaken by the significant, unsustainable levels of sickness absence.
We will continue to work hard, together with the wider NHS to recruit more midwives and neonatal nurses. We have also liaised with other specialist and regional providers to second staff, but this has not yet proved successful.
– Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust
We are concerned that sickness levels in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and maternity services are nearing levels where we would have further concern over the future safety of the service at Furness General Hospital (FGH).
Over the past eight weeks, we have been filling shifts with the goodwill of existing and agency staff but the situation has now risen to a level where this is not enough to ensure safe staffing levels.
As from 9am, Tuesday 5 February 2013, all SCBU services and consultant led maternity services will be temporarily transferring from FGH to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
– Sir David Henshaw, Interim Chair, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS
Maternity and neonatal services at Furness General Hospital are being transferred to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary on a temporary basis because of low staffing levels.
This is a shocking decision taken without the prior knowledge or agreement of the doctors who are supposed to ensure families have the health services they need.
The special care baby unit and the consultant-led maternity service should be a priority for the area and surely they could have been kept open by a temporary transfer of staff from the other hospitals in the trust.