Thursday, 19 March 2015

Council chief issues warning over hospital closures after daughter forced to give birth at home

Unexpected delivery: Labour council leader Julian Bell's daughter Sophronia Karakuzi, with her husband Sertan and their children

A council leader whose daughter gave birth at home after an ambulance failed to reach her in time warned this would happen to more women if a maternity unit was axed.
Julian Bell revealed how his son-in-law Sertan Karakuzi delivered the baby girl, Sephrah, after an ambulance failed to reach his daughter Sophronia in time to take her to Ealing hospital.
Officials wanting to close Ealing’s maternity unit say less than one per cent of its 2,500 annual deliveries  are classed as “BBA” (birth before admission).
But Mr Bell said extra travel times to the next-available hospital would cause this to increase.
A report by consultants McKinsey said the closures of the A&Es at Central Middlesex and Hammersmith hospitals last September — as part of the same “Shaping A Healthier Future” restructuring plans — were followed by longer emergency waiting times at all seven nearest hospitals.
Delays at Northwick Park hospital were the worst in the country.
Mr Bell, Labour leader of Ealing council, told a meeting of GPs the maternity plans would present similar risks.
He said: “My daughter was one of those people who had a birth before admission. In fact, my son-in-law delivered the child because the ambulance didn’t arrive in time.
“I’m somewhat sceptical of assurances that all is fine.
“Look at what happened with the A&E closures last Autumn. It didn’t go as we were reassured it would. We had all of this chaotic ‘worst in the country’ figures in terms of A&E waiting times.
“It’s right to say if mothers are having to travel further, their risks increase.”
Officials behind the plans have refused to publish figures showing extended travel times of women in labour.
Dr Mark Spencer, the Acton GP leading the reorganisation, admitted his sister had also had a BBA, giving birth in a hospital car park.

GPs voted to delay a final decision on when to close Ealing’s maternity unit until after the election after being told an expansion of Queen Charlotte’s maternity hospital had not been completed. The delay was agreed despite a warning from NHS England that failing to close the maternity department by June “would significantly increase the risk of unplanned closure”.
Officials want to concentrate consultant obstetricians, midwives and neonatal nurses in fewer hospitals to improve safety. The changes would cut the number of maternity units in North West London from seven to six and require all Ealing women to leave the borough if they want a hospital birth.

 Published: 19 March 2015

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