A BURY MP is seeking assurances that new mothers who now have to travel to give birth following the closure of Fairfield Hospital’s maternity unit are given adequate support.
Bury North MP David Nuttall raised the issue in a House of Commons debate, in light of a recent report which stated that parents whose babies are admitted to neonatal care can face a financial burden of around £280 a week.
The charity Bliss says parents often have to leave their baby in hospital each night as they are unable to stay close by, and have to pay expensive travel and parking costs while their child is in care.
The maternity and special care baby unit at Fairfield was closed in February last year as part of a Greater Manchester wide shake up to maternity, newborn and children’s services.
The in-patient maternity service has now been relocated to expanded premises at North Manchester General and Royal Bolton hospitals.
The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Fairfield, said at the time that most day-to-day maternity care would remain unchanged, and that families would only need to attend North Manchester General or the Royal Bolton hospital for the actual birth.
In a Commons debate, Mr Nuttall questioned whether “appropriate support is in place for Bury families who are struggling with a baby who needs specialist hospital care”.
In reply, health minister Daniel Poulter said that as a result of the shake-up, the lives of 25 young children and babies could be saved.
He said: “There has been a review, and that review is saving lives, so I commend any similar service reconfiguration that delivers similar benefits to women and patients.”
In response to the parliamentary debate, Cathy Trinick, head of midwifery at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “In March 2012 neonatal services for new born babies at Fairfield General Hospital relocated to our new £35 million purpose-built women and children’s development at North Manchester General Hospital, which opened in June 2010. This development has a new Neonatal Unit/Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) which offers families new facilities, equipment and high quality care in a modern setting.
“This development was part of the Greater Manchester Making it Better clinical redesign programme.
“When the SCBU moved we kept the same staff on board as many had built up long standing relationships with the patients and in the community.
“Many services, including routine outpatient antenatal care and scans, are still available at Fairfield General and at the children’s centres and clinics in Bury. This includes the hospital’s new Antenatal Day Unit (ANDU) which means most women will not have to travel to hospitals outside the area for appointments.”
Bliss chief executive Andy Cole added: “Whether parents receive the financial and emotional support they need when their premature or sick baby is in hospital should not be a game of chance.
“This is already an extremely stressful time for parents, but one thing they shouldn’t have to worry about is whether they can afford to be there for their baby. Bliss wants to see better financial support for parents without delay.”