5:00am Thursday 10th January 2013
By Sophia Sleigh
Mums from across the country are rejecting their local hospitals to give birth at a maternity unit threatened with closure.
A total of 2,811 mums had their babies at St Helier Hospital between January and October last year, including women from Croydon, Kingston, Leatherhead, Wandsworth and Lambeth.
Parents as far a field as Bradford and Southampton have used the maternity services at Epsom ansd St Helier hospitals trust.
Despite this the healthcare review Better Services Better Value (BSBV) said in May last year that it should be the one maternity unit in South West London to close.
BSBV, which also recommended St Helier lose its accident and emergency deparment and has already cost taxpayers £2m, is carrying out its review again to include Epsom Hospital.
The campaign to protect St Helier’s vital services has been stepped up with the leader of the council Ruth Dombey and MPs Tom Brake and Paul Burstow due to meet with health minister Anna Soubry today. (Jan 10)
Tom Brake, the MP for Carshalton and Wallington, said that given the strong demand on St Helier’s maternity and the increasing attendance at A&E proves that the services should remain at St Helier.
He said: "Young mums are voting with their feet - they want to come to St Helier’s maternity unit because of its fantastic reputation.
"We need to make sure that unit is available for future generations of babies - a point we will make with the health minister this week.
"Both my children were born there. We got excellent service. That’s why this generation of parents want to go there as well."
In 2009-2010 the maternity unit underwent a £2.8million refurbishment and the trust say the figures show 2013 is set to be its busiest year yet.
Mary Burstow, the chair of the health and well being scrutiny committee, gave birth to all three of her children at the hospital and said: "It makes no sense to close a department which is clearly doing such a good job.
"You would never think to close one of Sutton’s secondary schools, all of which are doing very well, all because other schools need a bit of a leg up."
A spokesperson for BSBV said that there were currently no proposals on the table.
They said: "Any proposals that are put forward will have to ensure that we are able to accommodate the expected numbers of births and meet national best practice safety standards across all hospitals."
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