LETTER: Anxiety over maternity

I read your article on the DGH Maternity Unit on March 13 2015 and wondered what sort of response there might be, being reassured to see the web comments of Stewie77 and hughrinall in the Herald on 20 March 2015, with which I agree entirely.

Their comments confirmed the underlying anxieties of people in the western side of the county to the situation that has been forced onto the population. Particularly concerning the recent decisions by both elected and unelected ‘public servants’, who are expected to provide safe and effective local public services.

My take on the article was from a slightly different direction, and from that of a clinician. I noticed that an establishment of 15 midwives and eight maternity support workers, in addition to community midwives of unspecified numbers, is required to run a unit which only delivered 550 babies over a 23 month period. This equates to approximately 24 babies per month or six per week! The midwife unit was supposed to be both a safer and more cost -effective service. It is patently neither of those things.

As a consultant I was always anxious about how often my expertise was reinforced with recent practise. It was one of the reasons I chose to work in a small peripheral unit like Eastbourne, rather than a large unit where numerous staff were all hoping to retain and expand their experience. Hopefully with an adequate and expanding number of patients as the staff numbers increased, which they have done in Eastbourne both in terms of midwives and medical staff.

I’m afraid your article demonstrates, unfortunately yet again, the persistent dishonesty of the medical service providers. Their consistent arguments about safety, and in this case cost effectiveness, has resulted in essential core services being removed from the western side of the county, and not just in midwifery and paediatrics.

Brian Valentine

High Street, Westham.