Mums who daubed their pregnant bellies in protest against closures at St Helier hospital have recreated their famous protest with their newborn babies.
The ladies gathered outside the hospital on Saturday, June 8, and were led by Kathy McGuinness, the founder of Local Mums Online, an online forum for mums to share information.
The before shot
The mums are outraged at the Better Services Better Value (BSBV) healthcare review’s proposals to close St Helier hospitals maternity, children’s services and accident and emergency wards.
The BSBV review argue their proposals would mean that everyone in south west London, Epsom and the surrounding area will receive the highest quality of care when they need it.
The babies each wore a baby grow with letters on spelling out the message “Save St Helier”.
Ms McGuinness said: “It is totally undemocratic and unfair to shut down such a well loved and valuable maternity service.
“The welfare of our unborn children is at risk and we simply won’t stand for it. The people behind this idea will have a real fight on their hands if they think they can downgrade St Helier.
“Pregnant mums want to go somewhere local, we don’t want extra stress when we’re at our most vulnerable. And what about the women with no car but several toddlers in tow? We shouldn’t have to traipse across London when we’re due.
“It’s pure madness and south London mothers won’t allow it.”
BSBV’s preferred option for the region’s healthcare is St Helier becoming a "local hospital" which will have GP services, treatment for scalds and simple fractures.
Dr Marilyn Plant, local GP and joint medical director for BSBV, said: "The reality is that the NHS is not working properly. Our hospitals are overstretched and there are not enough services in the community.
"This means we cannot deliver a quality service and patients suffer as a result. For example, the care patients receive at weekends falls short of the standards clinicians have set.
"We need to move to a service that provides consistent care over the whole seven days. This means concentrating services such as maternity and emergency care in fewer, bigger units.
"We can't just do nothing when as clinicians we believe we could deliver better, safer services. We think we have found a solution, but we need to test that with the public and see if they can put forward alternative ways of tackling the problems we face. That's why we want a public consultation."