In light of the shocking announcement on 4th December that all Maternity Services will be “temporarily” closed at South Tyneside Hospital until the New Year, Emma secured an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons last week. The Debate gave Emma the opportunity to voice the concerns of the people of South Shields regarding the overall downgrading of South Tyneside Hospital and to hold the Government to account over their reckless mismanagement of our NHS.
In Parliament Emma explained passionately how she believes that the Tories are dismantling our NHS by stealth. The Minister dismissed Emma’s concerns as “a conspiracy” despite the fact that Emma highlighted recent removal of vital services fitted neatly with the Clinical Commissioning Group’s proposals, proposals that were driven by his Government’s dangerous forced cuts to our NHS.
The Minister responding to Emma insisted that the temporary closure of the maternity unit had been enforced purely due to staffing issues. However Emma informed the Minister that there is in fact a whole medical team – including midwives, consultants and medical experts – reporting to work at South Tyneside hospital, despite having no babies to deliver. The Minister was clearly reading from a script supplied by the Trust and his response showed a lack of preparation and an ignorance of the true situation in Shields.
Incredibly, at one point the Minister responded to Emma’s concerns regarding home births by claiming, “A number of women have opted for a home birth”. The fact is that women are giving birth at home not out of choice, but out of necessity, without any medical assistance, this is a dangerous and risky situation that cannot continue.
Emma will carry on fighting for the return of Maternity Services to South Tyneside and against the downgrading of the Hospital overall.
Speaking after the debate Emma said, “As phase one of the consultation on the future of our hospital ends the very thought that the last baby to be born in South Shields could be in 2017, both upsets and appals me, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. In 2015 our hospital was recognised as one of the best performing in the UK, the managed decline of it is an insult to the staff and my constituents. The NHS right across England is in a perilous state, shunting services from a high performing hospital to another isn’t going to solve it.”
You can read Emma’s speech here.
Emma’s debate was also covered in the local press here.