Beith calls on government to support rural maternity service

SPEAKING in the House of Commons today, Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith called on the government to support health services in rural areas provided by community hospitals.

Sir Alan said: “Given that the maternity unit at Berwick infirmary has been suspended since the beginning of August for safety reasons, with births being referred to a hospital 50 miles away, will the Minister take into account the urgent need to provide the necessary clinical support for community hospitals in remote areas so that they can provide local essential services to the highest standards?”

Responding, Dr Daniel Poulter, the under-secretary for health, said: “I thank my right hon. Friend for that question. We discussed this issue in the Adjournment debate before the autumn recess. He is a strong advocate for his local maternity services.

“The concern was that only 13 births take place at his local maternity unit every year, and whether staff can continue to deliver high-quality care with such a low number of births.

“Of course, his local providers will want to consider the rurality of the area and the potential, as outlined in the Birthplace study, of rotating staff in and out of the hospital to support his local unit.”

Sir Alan is continuing to push for the restoration of maternity services in Berwick.