‘Deplorable’ – MP hits out at axing of births at Redbridge’s only maternity unit

The decision to close Redbridge’s only labour unit in “early 2013” has been branded “deplorable” by an MP.

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes has strongly criticised last week’s announcement that the maternity unit at King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes, will no longer carry out deliveries.

The plans have been in the pipeline for years and were agreed – subject to certain tests being passed – by the then health secretary Andrew Lansley in October.

Approval for the widespread plans was given by the board of NHS North East London and the City (NELC), which incorporates Redbridge.

The end of hospital births in Redbridge will “enable the NHS locally to concentrate services for medium to high- risk deliveries on fewer sites”, according to NELC.

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But Labour MP Mr Gapes said: “The public made it very clear they wanted to keep maternity at King George.

“But people in the NHS have just railroaded this. Local people in Redbridge have been ignored for the convenience of consultants and to save money.”

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He is also concerned about travel time for families visiting mothers.

The primary care trust says some women in Redbridge will be asked to give birth elsewhere, including Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone.

A new midwifery-led unit at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, is due to be completed in November and ready for births early next year, and there are “new planned services” at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel.

Women in Ilford North will give birth at Whipps Cross. while women in Ilford South will give birth at Queen’s Hospital.

Cranbrook ward in Ilford South is the only exception, with women there to be sent to Whipps Cross.

Commissioning support director Helen Brown said: “The birth rate in our area is rising and we can’t leave things as they are.

“Maternity units across the area will have a limit on how many births they can handle each year.

“Most women across north east London will notice no difference at all to their plans or the birth of their baby and many of those women who’ll be asked to go to a different hospital actually live closer to those hospitals in any case.”

She added: “Change like this can cause anxiety, so we want to reassure women that the reason we’re making these changes to maternity is to ensure all local women get the safe, high-quality service they deserve.”

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