Campaigners fear for mums-to-be

PUBLISHED: 17:19 19 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:59 12 August 2010

CAMPAIGNERS have warned that a strained hospital may not be able to cope with plans to dramatically increase its patient intake.

CAMPAIGNERS have warned that a strained hospital may not be able to cope with plans to dramatically increase its patient intake.

Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust had to divert non-emergency pregnancies for 31 hours last Wednesday and for more than two hours last Monday.

But if plans to close maternity units in Bexley and Lewisham go ahead, the struggling NHS Trust may face an even bigger intake of pregnancies in the next five years.

Health campaigners warned if maternity units are struggling to cope with current demand, proposals to axe existing units could make things worse.

Bromley campaigner Sue Sulis said: "I think the divert must show strain and inability to cope with the current situation.

"There is an increasing birth rate and they want to build so many million homes in the London area, yet they want to close maternity services.

"They have got to demonstrate the evidence that they can cope before they start closing units."

Reorganisation in south-east London is expected to be finished by 2015. But research into population growth by A Picture of Health (APOH), the committee behind the proposals, only went up to 2018.

A spokesman for APOH said it was not his responsibility to forecast population growth.

He said: "The services have to be improved and in most respects, irrespectively of the Thames Gateway development or the population growth."

All available options in APOH's consultation on reorganising south-east London hospitals involve closing Queen Mary's Sidcup's maternity unit.

Under two of the three options University Hospital, Lewisham would also lose its maternity unit.

A Bromley Hospitals spokesperson stressed their unit did not close last week, and still admitted women in labour.

She added: "We had really high capacity. It is safer to try and divert some of them to different hospitals.

"The last time the maternity unit closed was December 2004 for two hours."

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