Back in 2011, the board of NHS North West voted unanimously to close Salford's maternity unit, much to the disgust of residents and even politicians (see here). In its place was a 'Free Standing Midwifery Unit', or FMU, which was to be used by women who expected no birth complications.
The last figures the Salford Star has, for 2012-13, show that only 261 babies were subsequently born in the city, out of 3,500 with Salford parents, or 7.4%.
The Midwife-led Unit was hosted by Salford Royal Foundation Trust and delivered by Central Manchester Foundation Trust but, as a Salford City Council report notes, the "cost of running the service exceeded the national tariff" – and there was talk of shutting it down completely, meaning no more babies would be born in Salford at all, unless delivered at home.
Meanwhile, Salford Royal Hospital wanted the baby space, to expand it's own 'stroke pathways' facilities. However, following a campaign supported by local politicians, it was agreed to continue the Midwife-led Unit and relocate it away from the Hospital.
Salford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) wanted to close the Unit down until the new site was ready, leaving a six month gap in provision. Now, after much uncertainty, the Council is about to step in with £380,000 to keep the Unit open at Salford Royal until the end of September.
£180,000 of the money is to be paid to Salford Royal Foundation Trust for 'capital costs associated with the relocation of the existing provision within the Salford Royal site', while £200,000 is to be paid to the CCG to run the facility between April and 1st October.
After this period, the Council is hoping to move the Midwife-led Unit to a permanent site at Ingleside, the old residential home it owns next to Oakwood Park in Claremont. It will come complete with "complimentary services and potential community uses" states a Council report. However there is still much uncertainty about the move...
"...the ultimate success and sustainability of the project will require the facility to deliver a level of births compatible with provider tariff payments" states the Council report which will be considered by the Cabinet next week "If the selected provider cannot make the facility work on a cost effective basis over the initial lease term, the Council is at risk of having to look at other options for the future use of the building beyond that point."
A full report on the future of the Midwife-led Unit at Ingleside will be discussed by Salford Council next month.
See also previous Salford Star article - Maternity Services To Shut at Salford Royal Hospital - click here