Health Secretary Shona Robison should veto the closure of the Vale of Leven birthing unit following the publication of the Scottish Government’s review of maternity services today, local MSP Jackie Baillie has said.
The report identifies three key areas for improvement in national policy which echoes the concerns raised by Jackie Baillie and local activists during the campaign to save the Vale of Leven birthing unit:
1. Continuity of care and carer before, during and after birth
2. More information and choice for local women
3. More access to services locally
The report also states that free-standing midwifery units like the Vale of Leven Hospital are a “safe option for the majority of healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies”.
The report flags up concerns about the rise in medical interventions during childbirth, particularly caesarean sections. Jackie Baillie has argued that transferring more local women to the RAH and QEUH would only result in greater medicalisation of childbirth and poorer breastfeeding rates.
Midwife-led units use natural childbirth methods and the Vale of Leven Hospital offers mums-to-be non-invasive techniques such as the birthing pool and aromatherapy.
“The maternity review is very clear that women should have a real choice of where to give birth, more access to services in their local area and a single midwife to care for them throughout the pregnancy. I cannot agree more. Sending more local women to Paisley or Glasgow to give birth would fly in the face of everything which the report stands for.
“I am pleased that the experts have concluded that midwifery units are perfectly safe for the vast majority of women with uncomplicated pregnancies. This will finally put to bed any suggestion that the health board wanted to close the Vale unit for any reason other than saving money.
“The SNP Government must not delay the decision on the future of the Vale maternity any longer. People in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh have already made their views clear and we should not be wasting a single penny of NHS funding on a three-month consultation. The Health Secretary should ditch the plans now and pledge to keep the Vale of Leven birthing unit open.”