Health chiefs decided to shelve the decision on whether to close Ealing Hospital ’s maternity unit.
The local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) of GPs met at Ealing Town Hall on April 18 for discussions on the unit’s future, as mothers and babies and midwives gathered outside in protest.
The CCG voted to delay the closure after being told an expansion of Queen Charlotte’s maternity unit had not been completed, and further preparation was required before proceeding with the closure.
The unit at Ealing is due to be closed in order to concentrate maternity care, including midwives and neonatal nurses in fewer hospitals. The number of maternity units in north-west London would decrease from seven to six, requiring some women to travel to different boroughs to give birth.
Eve Turner, secretary of the Ealing Save Our NHS Campaign, said: “Our maternity unit is deservedly much-loved by mums and as well as having a good reputation, it’s safety standards are officially recorded as better than the alternative hospitals. It’s well-used and much-needed.
“It wasn’t long ago it was provided with a new birthing centre at a cost of £2m.
“The plans to close it are ridiculous. I personally think the real reason the maternity unit is under threat, is so that the hospital A&E can be downgraded.
“With brand new state-of-the-art birthing units installed in recent years it makes no financial sense whatsoever, to put it all down the drain, it’s immoral and irresponsible.”
Onkar Sahota, a GP and Labour London Assembly member for Ealing and Hillingdon, said it would be wrong to apply pressure on other hospitals like Northwick Park where they are “struggling”.
Labour councillor for Greenford Green, Aysha Raza, added: “Ealing has a high birth rate as well as other health issues that we have to deal with.
“It just doesn’t make any common sense, if you’re going to have a baby provisions should be closer to you not further away from you. Being a scientist I work with logic and I see no logic of moving away services from places where they are needed.
“Densely populated areas like Southall will no doubt suffer the worst because there are also language issues and other issues that should be taken into consideration.”