Jackie Baillie has launched a survey of every GP practice in the region to determine the level of effort the health board has put in to publicising the Vale of Leven Community Maternity Unit to mums-to-be.
The Scottish Labour MSP has written to every GP in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh, Clydebank, Milngavie and Bearsden to ask what publicity materials and information on the Vale unit they have available for pregnant women.
Protecting the Vale maternity unit was a key commitment of the Vision for the Vale and the health board promised a huge marketing drive to provide new mums with information about having their babies at the midwife-led service. However the health board is now blaming a decline in the number of births at the site as one of the reasons for the transfer of the service to the RAH in Paisley or the QEUH in Govan.
Currently, local women have the choice of giving birth at the midwife-led unit at the Vale or the consultant-led unit at the RAH if their pregnancy is deemed low-risk. The Royal College of Midwives believes that the women’s right to choose the type and place of birth is important and experts at the National Chidbirth Trust say that midwife-led units like the Vale offer relaxing surroundings during labour. The birth is also more likely to be straightforward without any medical interventions. (1) (2)
“All the experts agree that women should have as much choice as possible when deciding the type and place of birth they want, provided that it is safe for them to do so. That’s why I was delighted when the Vision for the Vale promised a marketing drive to ensure a sustainable future for the maternity unit by increasing awareness of the benefits of the service.
“However the health board has been reluctant to explain exactly what it has done to sustain the number of births at the Vale and many local people are rightly sceptical about the reasons for the proposed transfer of services to Paisley or Govan. I’ve launched this survey of local GPs because I want people in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh to know all the facts before the health board starts its consultation on cutting services at the Vale.
“It is important that the health board is held to account over its promises to market the services at the Vale of Leven Hospital and I look forward to hearing what local GPs have to say