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Councillors vote against changes to maternity services

Councillors voted against the plans. Credit: David Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

Councillors have voted overwhelmingly against proposed changes to maternity services in Cumbria.

The government-appointed Success Regime has outlined proposals to downgrade maternity services at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, from a consultant-led unit to a midwife-led unit.

But at a meeting of Cumbria's Health Scrutiny Committee today, councillors voted by ten to one to refer the proposals to the Health Secretary.

Earlier, they had voted to refer plans to change the children's health service in west Cumbria to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

A final decision will be taken at the end of today's meeting.

More on the story.

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Maternity changes 'not black and white', says senior doctor

One of the county's most senior doctors has admitted many of his colleagues have "reservations" about proposed changes to maternity services in West Cumbria.

Dr John Howarth is Deputy Chief Executive of the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

He was giving his personal opinion at a public meeting in Maryport to discuss various options for the future of healthcare in Cumbria.

People running the NHS say their preferred option is a midwife-led unit at the West Cumberland Hospital meaning many more pregnant woman would have to travel to Carlisle to give birth.

Campaigners 'play dead' to protest against maternity changes

Campaigners opposing plans to downgrade maternity services in west Cumbria have dressed up as corpses in front of a meeting of health bosses.

The Success Regime - appointed by the government to improve healthcare in Cumbria - is considering removing consultant-led maternity care from the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

They are holding public meetings across the county as part of a consultation into the plans, and protestors gathered outside one of the meetings in Whitehaven.

Protestors dressed as corpses outside a Success Regime meeting. Credit: ITV Border
Protestors dressed as corpses outside a Success Regime meeting. Credit: ITV Border
Protestors dressed as corpses outside a Success Regime meeting. Credit: ITV Border

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'Babies could die' if West Cumberland Hospital downgrades maternity care

Midwives from West Cumbria have published an open letter to the NHS Trust in charge of the West Cumberland Hospital.

They say the removal of consultant-led maternity care could put the lives of mothers, and babies, at risk.

Midwife Bernadette Bowness is one those concerned about the future of maternity services in West Cumbria:

The impact could be that some mothers could die, babies could die, babies could be brain-damaged and families will be traumatised.

– Bernadette Bowness

ITV Border's Hannah McNulty reports.

Success Regime releases statement on maternity services

Credit: Success Regime Cumbria

The Success Regime, set up by the government to improve healthcare in west, east and north Cumbria, has released a statement following the publication of an open letter from west Cumbrian midwives.

A Success Regime spokesperson said:

The Success Regime is currently looking at several options in respect to maternity services and we welcome the value and input of staff in helping shape which options are right for our services and the families of north, west and east Cumbria.

Whilst we are in this period of engagement no decisions will be made about the future service configuration, or options to remove consultant cover from West Cumberland Hospital and nor will they be until after further engagement. Any potential proposals for changes to maternity services will then be subject to a full public consultation, which is due to begin in September. Any changes to services would only be implemented following detailed planning and discussions with clinical teams.

– Success Regime spokesperson
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