Campaign to keep women’s hospital open

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Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Pic © Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust

Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Pic © Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust

A group of Merseyside mothers will lobby the Liverpool Women’s Hospital board meeting this Friday in an attempt to influence the future of the facility.

Controversy erupted earlier this year after an internal report found that the trust would be “financially unviable” after 2016/17” and rumours have since circulated that the Liverpool Women’s Hospital in Crown Street faces the threat of closure.

In August, Women’s Hospital medical director Dr Joanne Topping refused to rule out a merger with another NHS trust, telling the Liverpool Echo: “Liverpool has some of the poorest health outcomes in the country. Instead of every organisation having to have a set of separate services, things may be shared in the future.”

This sparked uproar from some women and mothers in the city who are concerned that if a merger happens, the specialism of a maternity hospital which prioritises the needs of those who are pregnant and new-borns will be lost.

An e-petition was set up to ‘Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital’ and immediately gathered momentum. Currently the online petition has 28,000 signatures and looks set to soon hit the target of 30,000.

Felicity Dowling, founder of the campaign, told JMU Journalism a specialist institution needs to remain in the area, focusing primarily on the needs of mothers and babies. She said: “When the hospital opened there was a democracy that was quite unusual.

“Women were treated with respect, they were given a say in their treatment. It is so important to have that specialism, where women’s needs are listened to.”

Last week, Director of Finance, Vanessa Harris confirmed the extent of the financial trouble at the hospital, stating:  “We cannot do any more to reduce our deficit this year and this level of deficit means we need to apply for cash funding from the Department of Health to bridge the gap.”

At this Friday’s monthly board meeting, the trust is set to reveal its business plan. There is also an announcement expected on the future of the hospital.

Campaigners wanting to keep it open hope to ensure that pressure is kept on the decision makers. Ms Dowling added: “We know bad things can happen without people knowing so we are going to keep a spotlight on it.”

About Barry Rocks, JMU Journalism