Adam Morton (Local Democracy Reporter)
Council opposes Trust’s proposal to centralise maternity services at Antrim Area Hospital
Mid Ulster District Council’s policy and resources committee has approved a response to a Northern Health and Social Care Trust consultation outlining Council’s objection to Trust’s plans for acute maternity services.
A report present to members of the committee on Thursday, February 9, provided members with a draft response to the Trust’s ‘working with you to transform acute maternity services’ consultation and sets outs the local authority’s opposition to option three and option four.
Option three is proposing that consultant-led births move to the Antrim site which would provide intrapartum care for an additional 600-700 births per annum.
It would also see the development of a freestanding midwifery led unit at Causeway Hospital for approximately 200-300 women suitable for low intervention midwifery-led care and birth and retain an enhance early pregnancy assessment units, antenatal and postnatal clinics and scheduled ambulatory services on Causeway sites.
Option four is to move all births to the Antrim site which would provide intrapartum care for an additional 900 births per annum and retain and enhance early pregnancy assessments unites, antenatal and postnatal clinics and ambulatory services on Causeway site.
Members of the committee were advised Council’s response states it does not provide support and is opposed to the Trust’s proposal to centralise maternity services at Antrim Area Hospital.
This position has been taken following a workshop held with elected members on January 25.
“On examination of the options, Mid Ulster District Council disagrees that it is in the best interests of maternity patients and their families to be provided with centralised care provision for either consultant led or midwifery led deliveries,” states the draft response.
“In some cases this would relocate delivery services a significant distance from patients’ homes.
“While Mid Ulster District Council recognises that there are challenges and imperfections in how the current services are delivered, the Council is not in support of the options set out in this consultation.
“It seems the overall outcome of the implementation of the proposed options will cause additional travel, stress and expense for expectant mother who reside in the service’s catchment area.”
The lengthy response concludes by stating Council is concerned this “could be the beginning of an overall downgrade of Causeway Hospital” and “strongly advocates” for its sustainability and seeks to ensure the services it currently provides are not diminished.
Councillor Derek McKinney said he was of the view that Antrim Area Hospital did not have the capacity need to increase the number of deliveries it would be expected to deal with.
Councillor Martin Kearney said he shared this view and believed the draft composed by officers was “a very fair and reasonable response”.
A proposal to approve the draft consultation response was put forward by Councillor Anne Forde and seconded by Cllr McKinney before the chamber voiced its approval.