New mums can stay at unit

NEW Ottery mums will be able to stay overnight after giving birth at Honiton Hospital maternity unit.

The NHS Devon Board agreed at its meeting on October 27 to abandon its proposed changes at the unit.

It had planned to end 24-hour facilities at Honiton, Okehampton and Tiverton hospitals, meaning mums would be sent home the day they give birth. It said this would give more women the chance to give birth in community units or at home.

Thousands of people joined a campaign against the proposals, claiming it would mean less support for new mothers, particularly those exhausted after childbirth, or those with breast-feeding difficulties. More than 2,000 alone signed up to a Facebook group to save the Honiton service.

As a result of this public pressure, the board plans to reinstate the option for mums to stay overnight after giving birth, and transfer to the hospital after giving birth at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

It has agreed to recruit midwifery support workers, so that mums who are judged clinically fit to return home, can remain in the unit if the midwife deems it necessary.

Board chairman David Radford said: “The clinically inspired proposals have been modified by the democratic process”.

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Dr John Ackroyd, a retired GP from Ottery, said the decision was an “inspiring sign” that if you are determined enough to change something, you can.

He said: “It has been hard work, but worth every minute to know local families will now benefit from a service that is so important to them.

“The devil is in the detail and we are waiting to hear more about the criteria that will be used by midwives to assess mums.”

Fellow campaigner Claire Wright, an Ottery town councillor, added: “It is a wonderful victory for people power.”