HEALTH bosses in North Staffordshire are pushing forward with preparations to welcome Stafford mothers if plans to move services from the county town go through.
Proposals by administrators at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust would see University Hospital of North Staffordshire, which already delivers around 5,800 babies a year, take on expectant mothers from Stafford.
Chief nurse at UNHS Liz Rix explained that while there hadn’t been a ‘huge increase’ in births since the centre opened in 2009, it had been designed with spare capacity to ensure it could cope if necessary.
“Now there is the possibility that more babies could be born here, we are making provisional plans to ensure the Centre is staffed for these extra beds,” she said.
But Stone Rural Parish Councillor Trish Dimberline, who lives in Moddershall, said she feared hospital administrators had given UHNS “the heads up” about the future of maternity services at Stafford Hospital after hearing news the hospital was preparing to receive Stafford mums-to-be on a TV news report.
She said: “The report said no decision has been made on the date of the closure.”
“I am worried for the farming community here.
“There are people who haven’t got cars so they can’t just charge out (to North Staffordshire),” she said. “The rural community just hasn’t been listened to.”
Ms Rix said the hospital was also equipped with a level three neonatal intensive care unit, which already receives some babies from Stafford, and has some capacity for up to 23 babies born prematurely, unwell or otherwise in need of specialised medical or nursing care.
“The high risk babies often travel long distances to be admitted to UHNS from other hospitals and occasionally from other neonatal units due to the specialist skills available here,” she said.
The maternity centre and neonatal unit have been fully accredited by UNICEF as ‘baby friendly’ – meaning they have reached and maintain high standards supporting mothers with breast feeding - since 2002.