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  1. ITV Report

85% of public reject West Cumberland maternity plans

Photo: PA

The results of a public consultation into plans to make major changes to healthcare in North, West and East Cumbria have been published today.

The consultation, commissioned by the NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, asked members of the public to select their preferred options for maternity care from three options:

  • Maternity Option 1 – the provision of a consultant-led maternity unit at both CumberlandInfirmary Carlisle and at West Cumberland Hospital, alongside a midwife-led maternity unit at both sites, a full range of antenatal and postnatal care at both sites and the continued option of giving birth at the Penrith Birthing Unit or at home.
  • Maternity Option 2 - the provision of a consultant-led maternity unit, alongside a midwife-led maternity unit and a special care baby unit at Cumberland Infirmary Carlisle along with a full range of antenatal and postnatal care. At West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven it would involve a standalone midwife-led maternity unit for low risk births, open 24 hours a day 365 days a year, with antenatal and postnatal care delivered by both consultants and midwives and with consultants on site between 8am and 8pm.The consultants would not provide intrapartum care (care during labour). It may be possible to offer low risk, planned caesarean sections at West Cumberland Hospital, once the midwife-led unit was fully established. Maternity Option 2 would also involve the provision of a dedicated ambulance, based at Whitehaven, to transfer any women who experience complications during labour or who need further pain relief, to the consultant-led unit at Carlisle.
  • Maternity Option 3 - involves the provision of a consultant-led maternity unit at CumberlandInfirmary Carlisle with a special care baby unit, alongside a midwife-led maternity unit and a full range of antenatal and postnatal care. There would be no births at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven but consultants and midwives would give antenatal and postnatal care at WestCumberland Hospital. As with Maternity Option 1, women would continue to have the choice of giving birth at the Penrith Birthing Unit or at home.

In the consultation questionnaire, respondents were asked to rank the order in which they preferred the options.

They were also asked to explain why they favoured their first option and were invited to offer proposals of their own.

People also sent in their views on these options in different formats including letters and e-mails.

Out of the 3696 respondents, 2097 people expressed a first preference for one of the options, of which 85% rejected the Success Regime's proposals for maternity care.

The Success Regime's preferred option was 'option 2', which on 11% backed Credit: NHS Cumbria

57% of respondents identified preferred options; over a third (37%) chose not to rank any options but added comments to explain why they did not agree with any of the proposed options; and 6% did not answer either part of the maternity services section.

In summary, the report's authors said:

In terms of the qualitative feedback received on this across the consultation response, it is clear that the main influence on the response to the maternity options is the relative safety that is offered to expectant mothers and babies by each of the options.

Maternity Option 1 was perceived by many as the safest option.

There was strongly expressed opposition to all of the options, across all the consultation channels, with many making the case for retaining the current level of maternity service provision at West Cumberland Hospital.

– NHS Cumbria CCG report

The report, which you can read in full here, also asked the public for their opinion on children's services, Community Hospital inpatient beds, emergency and acute care, hyper-acute stroke services, and emergency surgery, trauma, and orthopaedic services.