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Thursday, 10 July 2014

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Fears raised over north Cumbria hospitals maternity shake-up plan

North Cumbria could face a potentially “dangerous” shortage of experienced midwives if a proposed shake-up of the service goes ahead as planned, unions have warned.

Estephanie Dunn photo
Estephanie Dunn

Two unions - Unison and the Royal College of Nursing and Midwifery - have condemned the plan outlined by the bosses in charge of Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital and The Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospitals, insists its aim is to ensure a safe and efficient service.

But in a joint statement yesterday, the unions said the planned changes would have a “negative impact on patient care” by replacing experienced midwives with much less experienced ones. They said the plan could adversely affect services and lead to midwifery shortages at the trust.

The statement added there is concern that the trust’s risk assessments, costings and staff projections are “far from robust.”

The RCN’s Estephanie Dunn said the plans would lead to midwives having to work at lower pay grades and the trust employing fewer experienced midwives.

“We agree that this is finance driven,” she said. “We have a trust that has a large amount of money and the only way they can do that is by looking at the pay bill, focusing too heavily on the pay bill and not thinking about quality and risk implications."

Anne Musgrave, head of midwifery for North Cumbria, said the service’s staffing structure is being reviewed to ensure it provides “a safe, efficient and high-quality service while also maintaining the correct number and skill mix of midwives.”

She said: “We have been working very closely with our midwifery staff and their representatives as part of a formal consultation. We engage with our staff and have policies that protect and support them through organisational change.”

Have your say

@TB, I echo the exact points as both Dee and BM. You suggest that I should hold no opinion as to how the trusts are run as it doesn’t concern me? Wrong, I like millions of other hard working people have paid taxes for years and I would hope in the society we live in that the general publics opinion does count!! I can’t proclaim to know how the hospital is run, but as Dee pointed out, to compare it to the running of Mcdonalds is beyond belief. Regardless of what I or you or anyone else thinks, the underlying theme is that if frontline staff are fundamentally the most important aspect of the hospital and therefore need to feel valued and appreciated. This is both for their own moral and for the safety of the patients in their care!!
@Anon, I appreciate what you’re saying about the focus being on frontline staff, however this is because they are the ones in direct contact with patients. Patients fear that if these roles are lost the so too will be the standard of service they receive.

Posted by Sam on 27 July 2012 at 17:48

It is fair to criticise the outcomes. Is the hospital providing the necessary service, its coverage, its performance?

That doesnt mean that you, I or the unions know better. How it is managed is for the managers to decide.

Running a hospital is exactly the same as running any other large business. A business needs to run to a budget, whether the business is for profit or not. All large organisations have things in common.

I did not 'verbally attack' a pregnant woman. It cannot be 'verbal' if it is in the written form. And the woman in question, I'm sure does not feel 'vulnerable' because she is pregnant.

I am not the one trying to scare her about changes to a system that she had no knowledge of, to a system she will still have no knowledge of and somehow make her feel that her unborn child is at risk.

That was the unions not me. Unions have a place in the system, but they arent in charge and they never work intentionally in the favour of the users.

Posted by TB on 27 July 2012 at 17:42

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