At the stroke of noon on 5th November, the maternity ward in my local hospital closed.
Fortunately I live in a town where there are a high proportion of older people, so we don't really need a maternity unit....
We have excellent transport links to the Worcester, where expectant mothers are now expected go to give birth.
These days everyone has access to a car
Travelling to Worcester is an easy journey, and there is plenty of parking when you arrive.
Worcester Royal has plenty of spare capacity so there shouldn't be any difficulties.
The closure has been well planned,
and families have every confidence in those who have made this decision.
Unfortunately only the first sentence was true. Yes, at noon the Maternity wards at the Alex closed, for the foreseeable future, as there were insufficient doctors to ensure the safety of mums and babies. The decision was made last week, with expectant mothers finding out from social media. Transport links to Worcester are not good, and 20% of families in the town do not have a car. Parking at the hospital in Worcester is also a nightmare.
Continued uncertainly about the future of some services at the Alex in Redditch has made recruitment difficult. Staff morale remains low. Earlier this year all 4 A & E consultants simultaneously resigned, as they felt conditions at the hospital meant they felt they could not do their job. Rumours of bullying of medical staff by managers persist, though officials claim they found no evidence..
Redditch is a town with a young population, and Mum's to be need to get to hospital without delay. No-one knows how many Mums and babies will be put at risk by the transfer of deliveries to Worcester. Whilst no-one wants to see a further reduction in services at our local hospital, it wouldn't be so bad if the hospital that we are increasingly being directed to, was able to cope with its current patients. Unfortunately Worcester Royal is already overstretched and patient care is suffering.
My mothers generation had access to midwives to support them through their deliveries, which were often at home. Unless urgent action is taken to recruit the staff to ensure that babies enter the world with adequate care, then the only babies born in Redditch in the future will be those born at home, or in unplanned deliveries outside Poundland.
All in all not a day Redditch will fondly remember!