I wasn’t just born at the Alex, I was saved there
I wasn’t just born at the Alex, I was saved there
“It’s terrifying to think that in two years time there might not even be a midwifery unit in Redditch.”
When my heart stopped beating during my birth it was a dedicated team of midwives, doctors and consultants at the Alexandra Hospital that saved me. After what was, at no understatement, a traumatic birth I was then rushed off to theatre for surgery and spent the first two months of my life in hospital recovering. I was born and diagnosed with pyloric stenosis but it was an Alex midwife and not a doctor that first noticed the symptoms and subsequently saved my life. My mum spent those two months coming in and out of hospital nearly every day to see me. But with major services and resources under threat at our hospital, including maternity, it only highlights personally how impossible travelling to Worcester would be. Having a sick baby is distressing enough, having a sick baby that you can’t get to is simply barbaric. I’m telling you this because I don’t want our Alex midwifery unit to become a legacy. I want our Alex midwives to be championed, not undermined. I want those at the top to recognise that having a local maternity unit isn’t a privilege but a necessity. I want them to know that we won’t settle for a profit before patients approach to our NHS.
Hannah Millward, 19, is a first year student midwife at Birmingham City University. During her placement at a hospital in Birmingham, she has to work 13 hour shifts with one half an hour break and she has to pay for parking costs herself because there are no subsidies and her work is entirely unpaid until she is qualified. Her starting salary will be, on average, £21,388 and her antisocial work hours mean that time with precious family and friends is scarce. Her work is long hours and exhausting. One day Hannah might have to deliver a baby whose heart has stopped and her job will be to save that baby’s life. Her job isn’t a walk in the park, it can sometimes be a matter of life and death and yet we are only offering these fantastic NHS staff a 1% pay rise. Hannah added: “I’ve always wanted to be a midwife but right now I have to wait and see if I’ll even have a job at the end of my degree training. It’s not like other university degrees like English where you can be a teacher, or a journalist, or novelist. With midwifery, you can just be a midwife, and the narrow job prospects scare me. I was born at the Alex and I want to work at the Alex but it’s terrifying to think that in two years time there might not even be a midwifery unit in Redditch.” Our NHS midwives are being undermined and I’m not proud to be part of a society that is neglecting a profession of people that bring each and every one of us into this world. Hannah should be able to leave university and walk straight into a safe and secure job at the Alex but instead all she has is job insecurity and an indefinite future.
On top of this government’s negative ethical treatment of midwives, here in Redditch, there were 2100 births at the Alex in 2012/13 and 18% of them, according to BirthChoice UK, were unplanned caesarean sections. That is around 378 babies who needed a consultant and a modified option 1 that still sees that this major service be abolished isn’t practical. Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust just aren’t on the same wave length with the Redditch, and surrounding area, residents who deserve the security of a local hospital where they can have their babies without the stress and worry of having to travel to Worcester Royal Hospital. With 20% of households in Redditch without a car this prospect isn’t just stressful it’s impossible. Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust need to recognise that the severe and strong opposition to these negative proposals for Redditch aren’t just because of their presented annoyance but because of their impractically and how completely unworkable they are for local residents who deserve better than this.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, keeps telling us that these decisions are for the Trust to make and do not involve politicians and local MP Karen Lumley has reiterated this point several times. But, when the NHS budget was frozen, that decision was made by politicians and when the trusts were told that they must deliver £20bn in savings, that decision was made by politicians so why now, has he rejected all responsibility for decision making? The sheer narrow-mindedness of blaming PFI for all of the problems just won’t do anymore because the Health and Social Care Act 2012 only accelerated the involvement of private companies in the NHS. I am just 19 years old and I can’t stand to watch my NHS, a national shrine, which should be supported, being taken apart and destroyed brick by brick. So my message to this government is this: leave our hospital alone, hands off our maternity unit, and shame on you for how you’re treating our brilliant NHS staff and students.
(Born At The Alex)