Berwick Maternity Unit: your say

Berwick Infirmary Maternity Unit
Berwick Infirmary Maternity Unit

THE decision to temporarily close Berwick Maternity Unit because of a decline in the number of babies being born there has provoked an unprecedented response from our readers. Here’s a selection of your Tweets and comments on our website and Facebook page.

RACHEL GAIL THOMPSON: It’s shocking, but it’s been on the cards for years. If they where to spend money and improve the facilities so that all expectant mothers can give birth there it would be better than just closing it. I would have loved to have had Alexa born there, but was told from day one I would have to go to Wansbeck or Borders.

TYRA BLACKIE: I would have loved to have Jackson there, but because I had forceps with Liam I couldn’t take the chance and I did the right thing. Wansbeck’s midwives just don’t have the time to give you one-to-one care because they’re that over stretched. I’m gutted the BMU will close. If they just paid for better facilities they’d be overrun with babies because going there is like home from home.

JANET JEFFREY: Can’t believe a place the size of Berwick is to be without a maternity unit. What a disgrace. Babies were delivered at Castle Hills for years, and mothers benefited from the care they received, but now, as always, there are no funds, to better something that is really needed. Mothers will have to travel miles for care.

DUNCAN MACRAE: They are now saying it is closing because not enough babies are being born there? No wonder when the default choice is to take you to Wansbeck or BGH! Instead of closing the place they should invest in it so that all Berwick’s babies can be born there. This would also free up ambulances for emergencies instead of running up and down the A1 for births.

KAREN THORBURN: I had no choice but old Ashington because I was having twins, but would have loved to have had them in Berwick after months of care from the midwives there. I am wondering if the new mums in the last wee while have been ‘steered’ elsewhere.

KELLY CORRIGAN: It’s got nothing to do with the fact that women choose to have their babies elsewhere. It is that we are made to, because the services the main hospitals offer aren’t in place at Berwick. Even a slight increase in blood pressure sees us forced to do a 100-mile round trip to the next nearest hospital. Berwick midwives, if they had the equipment, can deal with it. It is the health care service that has reduced it to this, with their rules and their stipulations that has stopped the midwives working to their full potential.

COLIN: The mums probably aren’t given a choice and get carted off to Wansbeck. Hence, that keeps the births in Berwick down and the subsequent closure.

MARIE McLEISH: I am due to give birth there in December. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I had my last baby at Berwick and wanted to do the same again.

MELANIE ELLIS: We will bring this up at the next Berwick Deserves Better meeting.

EMMA HARGREAVES: It’s not only the delivering the babies, it’s the aftercare and support and recovery from the unit. With my first I had a section and spend five days in the unit recovering. I am due again in December and unsure what’s going to happen. Sad news.

JULIE TAYLOR: This is a story invented by the NHS to make people believe that they are doing the right thing. The midwives in Berwick maternity unit are given no back-up and are only allowed to deliver normal births. The slightest deviation from normal and they have no choice but to whisk patient away to a bigger hospital. These are rules laid down by the Trust. They have tried to close the maternity unit for years by continually placing obstacles in the paths of midwives and mums to be. Finally, they got what they wanted just before they start with the new hospital. The midwives at Berwick Maternity Unit deserve a medal for being so dedicated and putting up with all the rubbish the NHS has flung at them over the years.

SUSAN JANE BELL: I had my two in Berwick. Had excellent after care too. Such a shame if they close it.

DOROTHY CASE: I feel for the expectant mothers having to travel down that road for an hour either way, and for the midwives who do a fantastic job. Dualling the A1 would certainly make things a lot easier to get to the bigger hospitals, but God help us if there’s a major accident.

TYRA BLACKIE: It was horrible going all the way to Wansbeck two weeks ago in labour. When you get there midwives on the labour ward are tired and overstretched. I asked for help breastfeeding Jackson, but the nightshift midwife on the ward was very rude and said she didn’t have time so I ended up having to give him a bottle till the dayshift came in and they helped a lot more. I begged to get home to Berwick. It’s a crying shame as I would have delivered both my boys there had there been better facilities.

SABRINA DODDS: I can’t believe this. Instead of taking facilities away from our area they should be improving them! It angers me to think that people will now need to travel an hour or more. This is not good enough. That hour could be a matter of life or death as well I know and truly do believe that things may well have been different if Berwick had the facilities to deal with emergencies. Ashington can barely deal with the numbers as it is. How are they going to deal with the added pressure of the closure of Berwick?

DIANE LYONS: It’s a shame because it’s not just the giving birth, but you can’t even go there for the few days afterwards.

JULIE RILEY: This is fundamentally wrong. People shouldn’t have to travel a 100-mile round trip to give birth, or visit their newborns. Some won’t be able to afford it. Berwick is a rural area with a large catchment area and strong community spirit. Our local councillors and MP Sir Alan Beith will be inundated with this and I hope they take this cause up for their constituents and fight tooth and nail. People are fed up accepting services being withdrawn and poor amenities. We need to be heard and taken seriously. I can’t begin to describe my disgust at how this was announced. The timings, the manner and, more importantly, those great staff were treated with no respect. That, in itself, is a disgrace.

PAULINE LAIDLAW: The slightest sign of something not being normal and the mother is sent to Borders or Wansbeck. I understand on some occasions needs must. But how much money is spent sending mothers to other units when the birth could be carried out here? Childbirth is not some new scientific find that is beyond midwifes. So angry. Had three of my four daughters here.

MARGARET SCOTT MITCHELL: Outraged at this decision. Do the families of Berwick and the surrounding areas not get a say in any of this? It is not through choice that most are sent either to the BGH or Wansbeck. I had to go to old Ashington to have my oldest as my blood pressure was slightly raised. They didn’t have the facilities in case of an emergency at Berwick. Last year my sister in law went down to Wansbeck only to be sent home as she wasn’t dilated enough and was told to come back in a few hours. This resulted in my niece being born in a lay-by near Alnwick. This could have been so disastrous for mother and child. What is it going to take for people to realise if they would only give the team here at the unit the support and resources they need so many more babies would be born here in Berwick healthy with happy relaxed parents.

VIVIEN DEMPSEY: I wonder if the ambulance service were consulted on this decision. I have a feeling we may have a lot more babies born in lay-bys, as my nephew was, or even born at home!

KIM REDPATH: How dare the powers that be think Berwick hasn’t a need for the maternity unit. I was unable to have my children here because I had to have C-sections but I returned ASAP to the Berwick Maternity Unit and their care was amazing.

ELIZABETH RICHARDSON: This is a disgrace! Where is the consultation, transparency and openness the trust so often spouts? Women should have the right to choose where they have their babies in a place that is convenient to them with high quality care that has always been on offer at BMU. This will also put a further financial strain on families having to travel to either Wansbeck or BGH.

JULIE EDMISON: When I had my second son I was at BMU three times before he was born. They sent me home after a couple of hour the first time. Second time they kept me in overnight then sent me home. Third time I had my son who was born spine to spine (face up) with no problems. The midwives were fantastic. Please don’t lose another service in Berwick.