Children’s and maternity services in parts of Yorkshire are ‘no longer sustainable’ - because hospitals don’t have the staff to cope with demand.
Services in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw are to be ‘reshaped’ as part of a major shake-up of the region’s NHS designed to find £571m of savings over the next five years.
A similar review of how maternity services operate is due to take place in the Humber, Coast and Vale region, while there are fears about the potential loss of consultant-led services at Darlington Memorial Hospital affecting expectant and new mothers in rural areas of North Yorkshire.
The South Yorkshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) says a ‘national shortage of specialist paediatric staff coupled with rising demands and need to meet higher national standards’ means a reorganisation of the services is needed.
And while local health bosses say no units are facing closure ‘at this stage’, the report by health bosses say the way children’s and maternity services must be changed’.
It said: “Currently, our children’s and maternity services are under significant pressure with the ways in which we provide services no longer being sustainable.
“There is a national shortage of specialist paediatric staff, which, coupled with rising demands and needing to meet higher national standards, tells us we need to reshape our children’s and maternity services across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw.
“From community based care to the more specialised and hospital services we have in our region, we want all our children to have the best start in life, local support to stay healthy and more specialist care available should they need it.”
Will Cleary-Gray, director of sustainability and transformation for South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, said: “At this stage there are no plans to have any changes to the number of units.
“It recognises there are national standards that have been published and we need to make sure those services are meeting those national standards.”
In North Yorkshire, campaigners are fearful about the loss of consultant led services at Darlington Memorial Hospital under the NHS’s Better Health Programme(BHP) which means patients could be forced to travel two hours to Middlesbrough. In Humber, Coast and Vale, the plans are simply to establish a ‘local maternity system’.
Across the country, 44 regional STPs have been drawn up to help tackle an estimated £22bn funding shortfall for the NHS by 2020/2021.
Analysis of the figures shows around 12 maternity and neonatal units across England may be facing closure or consolidation.