Ministers Urged To Think Again On Maternity Services Cuts

13 January 2017, 14:00 | Updated: 13 January 2017, 19:37

queen elizabeth hospital glasgow

Labour has called for proposed changes to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde maternity services to be reversed.

It follows the health board apologising to pregnant women who were turned away from the maternity unit at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) on Thursday.

Three expectant mothers were diverted to other maternity hospitals in the area while a further two had planned procedures ''safely deferred for a matter of hours''.

The board said the diversions to the Royal Alexandra Hospital and the Princess Royal Maternity was put in place ''due to a high number of admissions to the QEUH and a number of women and babies developing complications'', adding the hospital had since returned to normal service.

A spokesman said: ''Patient safety was maintained at all times. We would like to apologise to anyone to whom this caused any distress.''

Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar said the incident should force a rethink on plans to cut birthing facilities in community maternity units at the Vale of Leven Hospital in West Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde Royal Hospital, and send patients to other hospitals in the area including the QEUH.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has proposed the change as it says the ''overwhelming majority'' of women choose to have their ante and post natal care in the units but opt for delivery in hospital.

In 2015/16 there were only 17 deliveries at Inverclyde Royal Hospital and 43 at the Vale of Leven.

Mr Sarwar has written to Health Secretary Shona Robison, urging her to ''call in'' the proposals, a move backed by opposition MSPs in September.

He said: ''If pregnant women are being turned away from the biggest hospital in the country, it makes no sense to reduce maternity services in the area.

''That is why today I have written to SNP Health Secretary Shona Robison calling on her to see sense on the proposal to cut maternity units at the Vale of Leven Hospital and Inverclyde Royal Hospital.

''She should keep the promises she made to the public before the election, recognise the existing pressures on the service and stop these senseless cuts.

''The last thing we need is a reduction of capacity in the area. The uncertainty must stop.''

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ''This Government has already instructed a review of all maternity and neonatal services across the country – and this is due to publish shortly. This review, based on clinical and expert evidence, will take in to account how local areas can best plan and deliver the best and safest possible maternity and neonatal services, in the face of changing demographics and birth rates. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will take full account of this review before progressing any proposals for maternity services in Inverclyde and the Vale of Leven. However, it must be made clear that no decisions have been made and these proposals must still subject to formal public consultation and, ultimately, Ministerial approval.

''The temporary divert in place for a few hours yesterday at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital’s maternity unit was caused by an unusual combination of high levels of admissions and a number of women and babies developing complications. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde took the right steps to protect patient safety, ensuring the highest standards of care for women and babies in Glasgow.''