Town council sets date for public meeting on maternity unit

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BERWICK Town Council is awaiting a response from health chiefs after arranging a public meeting for Thursday, October 25 to discuss Berwick Maternity Unit.

The town council says the meeting will go ahead at the town hall on October 25 at 6pm whether Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust decides to send a representative or not. It has been invited to attend.

David Evans, the trust’s medical director, has so far been unwilling to commit to a public meeting, saying earlier this week that “it is unlikely that we will have any new information to share.”

The Advertiser understands that the trust is reluctant to send a representative while a public survey into Berwick’s maternity service is ongoing.

Without warning, Berwick Maternity Unit was suddenly closed for births and post-natal care on August 1 following what the trust said were two “very serious” incidents which “compromised the safety of mothers and babies in our care.” It is now conducting a public review into Berwick’s maternity service.

Earlier this week, Mr Evans said: “We recently held a constructive meeting with Berwick Town Council at the start of September and welcomed this opportunity to explain our safety concerns, why we had to take the quick decision to suspend services at Berwick Maternity Unit pending a review and answer their questions.

“We have not been approached by Berwick Town Council about a public meeting in October, however it is unlikely that we will have any new information to share until after our review concludes and we are able to discuss with people what the likely next steps and options might be. Until then, we would like to reassure local people that we are listening.

“We have offered to meet with members of the Facebook campaign group to make sure we address their concerns as part of the review and the independent research commissioned by NHS North of Tyne will also begin this week to ensure that the views of local people are heard.”

“All of the feedback we receive will be considered as part of the overall review and shared publicly once the review concludes which is expected to be towards the end of October.”