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The Daily Shame | October 13, 2015

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High-risk pregnancies further complicated by Jeremy Hunt’s proposals for Lewisham Hospital

High-risk pregnancies further complicated by Jeremy Hunt’s proposals for Lewisham Hospital

So Lewisham Hospital’s maternity unit will be down-graded to a midwife-led birthing centre.  Well, that’s just great.  Not only is Lewisham Hospital A&E being affected by cuts, the Tories are actually going to punish Lewisham Hospital even further as a result of the financial collapse of a neighbouring NHS trust.  Lewisham Hospital isn’t to blame for these financial difficulties, but is being made to pay heavily for them.  Sounds about right.

Obviously, Mr Jeremy Hunt can easily distinguish between a potentially low-risk and high-risk delivery.  I’m guessing he’ll be examining every pregnant woman personally so he can advise them which hospital to have their baby in.  I mean…it’s so easy to determine…we can all do it!  Plus…who wants to have their baby in a hospital which is better able to save their newborn baby’s life if delivery doesn’t quite go to plan?  Who’d want that?  Oh, I don’t know…EVERYBODY?

It stands to reason any pregnant woman would opt to deliver their baby in a hospital with the very best care available.  Would this not mean Lewisham’s maternity services would eventually be seen as even less of a necessity and cut altogether?  No…Jeremy wouldn’t do that…would he?

Apart from this, and what a lot of people don’t realize is, Lewisham isn’t just another South London hospital.  This is a hospital with an already well-established foetal medicine unit.  Not only do people in the surrounding areas need this hospital, women with high-risk pregnancies throughout the South East need it too.  It is one of the leading hospitals for IUTs (intrauterine transfusions) and pregnant women from all over the South East are often referred there.

The foetal medicine unit at Kings College Hospital is already overstretched and it’s not uncommon for patients to arrive early in the morning, wait all day for vital treatment, before leaving to go home late in the evening.  If Lewisham Hospital’s maternity services are cut, it will mean many pregnant women with high-risk pregnancies would be forced to travel a far longer distance for invasive treatment.

Transferring facilities to neighbouring hospitals really doesn’t help matters.  Lewisham Hospital’s pathology lab is totally clued-up on every single detail of what’s required when testing blood from a cordocentesis (blood sampling from the umbilical cord).  The consultant performing the IUTs may be perfectly capable, but if calculations are poorly executed at path lab level, the amount of blood transfused will be incorrect and babies could die from over-transfusion and subsequent heart failure.  This isn’t just speculation.  This can happen.

In the meantime, high-risk pregnancies being dealt with at Kings will cause stress to the mothers who may have to travel for several hours on buses, coaches and trains to get to those all-important appointments, not to mention the extra expense that will eat further into their morale.   Of course they will do whatever it takes…any mother would, but no pregnant woman should be forced to travel huge distances, just because the Tories have decided her welfare, and that of her baby, doesn’t matter anymore.

Women living on the South East coast of England are mostly referred to Lewisham or Kings.  Lewisham is a nightmare to get to as it is, but Denmark Hill?  Give me a break.

Professor Kypros Nicolaides’ expert team at Kings takes referrals from all over the country and, as mentioned earlier, IUTs are often performed late in the evening as a result of their foetal medicine unit already being overstretched.  How are these women expected to get home, especially if they’re unable to drive and not on any benefits that would make them priority for free transport?

Bragging about the far better care patients will receive elsewhere, and how they’ll only have to travel for a further two minutes in an ambulance to a different hospital, is completely pointless. This will mean nothing to a pregnant woman who’s fighting her way back and forth across London to ensure her baby gets the best medical attention possible…and, unlike the thoughtless Tories, she WILL fight for her baby’s life.

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