Rebecca Hanson is a local Businesswoman and owner of Authentic Maths Ltd, she is also a Town Councillor for Cockermouth, a well-known town in the Lake District situated in the North West of England.
In her role as a Local Champion Rebecca responded to a consultation document on health care in West Cumbria, the consultation document is called the “Success Regime – A consultation on the future of National Health (NHS) services in Cumbria”
David: Rebecca, when did you see the problems looming behind this consultation?
Rebecca: As soon as she attended a public consultation it became clear to her that what was being proposed for her area could mean was the removal of consultant-led obstetric care in Whitehaven, their local hospital.
Astonishingly, I quickly realized that the consultation document had not had any risk assessment as to potential outcomes should this be implemented. Naturally this gave considerable cause for concern so we carried out a major review of the consultation document and included an internationally recognized risk assessment process.
David: Tell me what you discovered.
Rebecca: Well, over 1200 women currently give birth in Whitehaven Cumbria UK each year. Under the planned changes 700 women per year will be expected to travel over an hour in labour to access their nearest obstetric care. There is no precedent for this in Europe, but Canadian studies show that women who are 1-2 hours from obstetric care have very poor birth outcomes compared with women who live closer to care.
That is why we added our voices to those of many others who have called for The Success Regime consultation to be suspended. The consultation did not include a risk assessment on implementing the programme, and our risk assessment brought up some frightening facts.
David: What do the local population feel about these changes?
Rebecca: There is considerable local opposition to the proposals with local people feeling that Health chiefs are ignoring the birthing risks in order to force changes through in West Cumbria. Women who live 1-2 hours from obstetric care are known to have much poorer birth outcomes and should these changes go ahead it will mean that the Cumberland Infirmary will suddenly be dealing with over 600 women who live 1-2 hours away from obstetric care each year.
There is no precedent for this in the developed world as previously only very small numbers of women living in rural areas have lived so far away. There is also no precedent for women in centres of urban deprivation living far from care.”
Although our report is receiving considerable support from other Health Organisations since it was made public the Government has decided to go ahead with the changes. As a result, People across the country are asking why these changes are being forced through as they clearly won’t lead to costs savings.
They’re wondering whether this is part of a plan by Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt to restructure the NHS and make it ready for Privatization.
David: Thank You Rebecca Hanson