Midwives warn 'mothers will die' if maternity care is downgraded

Midwives are warning that downgrading services would cost lives. Credit: PA

Midwives from west Cumbria have published an open letter warning that "mothers and babies will die" if consultant-led maternity care is removed from the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

In the letter, published on the We Love West Cumberland Hospital Facebook page, the midwives urge North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust to retain consultants in the area.

They point to the long journey women suffering from birth complications would need to make, from west Cumbria to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, if services were to be downgraded.

The West Cumberland Hospital. Credit: ITV Border
  • Are consultant-led maternity services under threat?

The government's Success Regime was set up to improve healthcare in west, north and east Cumbria, following serious problems with the NHS Trusts running services in the region.

Amongst those issues are recruitment problems, and a multi-million pound debt for the West Cumberland Hospital.

The Success Regime has outlined a series of possible options for changing healthcare in west Cumbria, including the possibility of removing consultant-led maternity care from west Cumbria.

Consultant-led care would be retained in Carlisle.

Last March, an independent report advised keeping consultant-led services in west Cumbria.

The downgrading of maternity care is only a possibility at this stage, however it is causing significant concern amongst people in Cumbria, as well as staff at the West Cumberland Hospital.

Women with birth complications would have to travel to the Cumberland Infirmary. Credit: ITV Border
  • Midwives' letter in full

The following letter from midwives in west Cumbria was published on the We Need West Cumberland Hospital Facebook page.

It is addressed to Stephen Eames, the Chief Executive of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust.