Johnson backs closures24th August 2007
The government has given its backing to the closure of four maternity units, and the downgrading of an A&E unit, at hospitals in Greater Manchester.
Following a review by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), health secretary Alan Johnson gave approval to plans to close units in Salford Hope, Trafford, Fairfield in Bury and Rochdale Infirmary.
The IRP stated that local health service trusts should think about the creation of separate midwife units instead and should "demonstrably" strengthen its community health services. The closures are thought to be taking place within three to five years.
Maternity care led by consultants will take place in eight hospitals in Greater Manchester. Intensive care will take place in three units - St Mary's in Manchester, the Royal Bolton and the Royal Oldham Hospital.
Rochdale Lib Dem MP Paul Rowen said: "I am devastated for the people for Rochdale who have fought so hard against this. We have done everything possible to save these services and I am furious that we have been ignored."
The Department of Health spokesman said the government would be investing an £38m in emergency services and £60m in maternity services.
Anthony Emmerson, a consultant neonatalogist at St Mary's hospital and lead clinician for Greater Manchester Neonatal network, said that doctors and nurses had been asking for the changes "for 30 years...we believe they will help to save the lives of up to 30 more babies every year."
However, Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the consultation "failed to adequately reflect how access to services impacts the overall quality of care."
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Title: Johnson backs closures
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 3890
Date Added: 24th Aug 2007