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MP calls for maternity review after bed shortages revealed

February 16, 2009 12:00 AM

Rochdale's top health campaigner Councillor Jean AshworthRochdale's MP Paul Rowen has called for an urgent review into the controversial decision to downgrade maternity services at after it was revealed that a number of wards have been forced to close due to a lack of beds.

The latest statistics have shown that there were 553 closures in total in England which was up 38% from 402 in 2007. This also coincides with the latest birth figures for Rochdale which were up by more that 400 on the predicted rate.

Rochdale MP Paul Rowen said the closures were unacceptable and called for health secretary Alan Johnson to review the decision to axe the Infirmary's maternity unit by 2011.

Rochdale MP Paul Rowen said: "This news illustrates my point that the estimates of births used to justify closing the Infirmary's maternity unit have proved to be wildly inaccurate and things will only get worse with the recent increase in births that we are witnessing. These figures are unacceptable and are a clear indication of the terrible neglect by Labour towards our maternity unit"

Councillor Jean Ashworth was applauded recently at the full meeting of council after she made an emotional plea for an urgent review to be carried out by Mr Johnson.

She said: "We are really concerned about the volume of patients, which is constantly rising. To change any of these services is putting at risk the health and welfare of people in this borough."

Councillor Ashworth said the elderly in Rochdale are already suffering 'long and traumatic delays through a lack of service and beds at Rochdale Infirmary' and other hospitals in the Pennine Acute Trust could not cope with their own areas, let alone try to cater for the needs of Rochdale and surrounding areas.

Councillor Ashworth said if the staff at Burnley A and E and local councillors were campaigning together against the closures in their area then Rochdale councillors should 'forget politics' and take similar action.

Councillor Dale Mulgrew, the council's health leader, said he was monitoring the situation affecting Burnley General and Royal Blackburn Hospitals.

Councillor William Hobhouse said: "After speaking to member's of staff I know that the closure of Burnley's A&E is already having a massive effect on the services at Rochdale. I have spoken. We have to work together to put a strong case across to Mr Johnson to show him that the decision has already been proven to be the wrong one."