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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 14:57 GMT 15:57 UK
Baby hospital closure confirmed
Queen Mother's
Plans to close the Queen Mother's Hospital sparked protests
Health chiefs in Glasgow have endorsed controversial plans to close the Queen Mother's maternity unit.

The move was passed on a majority vote by the Greater Glasgow Health Board despite warnings from staff and the public that lives could be lost.

The proposals must now be approved by Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm, who promised he would not simply rubber stamp the board's decision.

About 200 submissions were made during the three-month consultation period.

The board said it was no longer feasible to maintain three maternity hospitals in Glasgow.

An expert panel had recommended the closure of the Queen Mother's as part of a reorganisation of the city's maternity services.

But medical staff warned that babies' lives would be at risk if the relationship between the Queen Mother's and Yorkhill was lost.

We are recommending measures that are designed to give sustainable and safe services for mothers and babies
Professor Sir John Arbuthnott
NHS Greater Glasgow chairman
Supporters of the Southern General argued that mothers would benefit from the specialist treatment available at the site, which has an adult intensive care unit.

The board has also agreed to consult on whether the Royal Hospital for Sick Children should be moved.

Members agreed to consider clinical advice to switch from Yorkhill to another site which includes adult and maternity hospitals.

The board backed a number of recommendations, which also included:

  • The introduction of a new public health midwifery service

  • Midwifery delivery beds at the two remaining maternity hospitals

  • Working to address the access and transport issues raised during the consultation

  • Reassuring staff that there will be no job losses.

Professor Sir John Arbuthnott, the chairman of NHS Greater Glasgow, said it had been a "long and difficult process".

"At the heart of the board's decision, in responding to the need for change, we are recommending measures that are designed to give sustainable and safe services for mothers and babies," he said.

The plans will now be submitted to Mr Chisholm, who has the final say on the hospital's closure.

The Queen Mother's can be used safely and successfully for the next 15 years or more
Dr Tom Turner

He said he would look "very closely" at all the evidence and submissions.

"There are many complex issues here which have attracted considerable public interest," he said.

"I am well aware of the range of views and feelings which have been expressed and I have said all along that there will be no rubber stamping of any proposals.

"I will be looking at the actual substance of the proposals and the adequacy of the public consultation. When I come to a view in due course, I will have to be satisfied on both counts."

Campaigners for the Queen Mother's are planning to join other groups to form a nationwide group to campaign against hospital closures.

Newborn baby
Births will be concentrated at the Southern General
Dr Tom Turner, the Queen Mother's clinical director, was among those who argued that the unit should be retained.

"The Queen Mother's could be used safely and successfully for the next 15 years or more," he said.

"There is no reason to disrupt the service at the moment. If services were disrupted then children's lives would be put at risk."

Local Labour MSP Pauline McNeill said: "By making this decision, Greater Glasgow Health Board have removed yet another crucial NHS service for patients and families in west Glasgow.

"This follows the previous decision to relocate the Western Infirmary's accident and emergency centre to the Southern General.

Public opinion

"It is my constituents who are to suffer as their local health services disappear across the river."

Scottish National Party MSP Sandra White described the decision as "a total disaster for maternity services and expectant mothers across Scotland".

She said: "Public opinion seemed to count for nothing when this decision was made, which is little more than a slap in the face for the people who have campaigned so hard for the hospital to remain open.

"It is clear that this decision has been made with blatant disregard for mothers and their babies and all we are left with is one less specialist maternity care unit in Scotland."


SEE ALSO:
City maternity consultation ends
20 Feb 04  |  Scotland
Maternity unit fight stepped up
18 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Maternity hospital closure backed
21 Oct 03  |  Scotland


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