Local MSP Jackie Baillie has welcomed plans to ‘pause’ consultation on controversial plans to close the birthing unit at the Vale of Leven Hospital but has called for a high-profile marketing campaign to increase the number of mums-to-be who choose to give birth in the midwife-led unit.
In papers published in advance of the health board meeting today, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has recommended a ‘pause on any steps to undertake formal public consultation in relation to the Birthing Units’ while it redesigns maternity services across Glasgow.
The health board was due to announce whether it would proceed with the closure on Tuesday after considering the findings of the Scottish Government’s national review of maternity services.
The Vision for the Vale agreement between the health board and the Scottish Government promised to ‘promote and sustain’ the maternity unit and Jackie Baillie is calling for a high-profile marketing campaign to raise awareness of the midwife-led unit among mums-to-be and increase birth numbers at the Vale.
The health board had previously promised to market the unit to women locally and further afield in Clydebank, Bearsden and Milngavie but there was little evidence to suggest that this had been done.
“Any plan to halt a consultation on cuts at the Vale of Leven Hospital is welcome. However let’s be clear that this is simply yet another delay which kicks the decision on closing the unit into the long grass. It is not the complete U-turn which local campaigners and the community in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond have demanded.
“The health board and the SNP Government have damaged the maternity unit by letting uncertainty over its future drag on for almost a year and a half. Unless NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde takes immediate action to increase birth numbers at the Vale of Leven Hospital, the reality is that the number of babies born at the Vale will continue to fall and the health board will use that as an excuse for closure.
“One of the reasons behind the decline in birth numbers is the health board’s failure to promote the service. Three quarters of local GPs have said that they were not even aware of any marketing activity, despite the promises made in the Vision for the Vale. We need an urgent commitment to a new strategy to promote the Vale maternity unit and the resources to back it up. Only then can we sustain the service in the long-term and ensure new generations of Vale babies for years to co