A story I heard about events which happened yesterday (Friday 7 January) seems to resonate with some current concerns of top people in maternity care.
The tale goes that a leading and very large NHS hospital sent at least two expectant mothers home again without any treatment yesterday, after these women had waited several hours, fasting, for their elective – as in, agreed date but necessary – Caesarian sections. And even then the last routine C-section didn’t complete till mid-evening.
Apparently this is the regular weekly routine in that hospital. Over the week, the caseload becomes more and more behind schedule, as mothers-to-be present with extra complications which only an expert-led facility can deal with.
At the same time, we gather, only one operating theatre is permitted to be open after 5 pm, so non-emergency C-sections scheduled for any time after lunch have a ever-diminishing likelihood as the week progresses of actually getting done on the agreed date. And we may I think assume that weekends are for non-urgent cases a complete no-no.
But, as the heads of various obstetric bodies have pointed out, it doesn’t have to be like that; and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley could ensure that it isn’t.
Trends in obstetric requirements are relatively easy to predict and the physical capacity of large modern hospitals is generally adequate to most of these requirements. All that’s needed in addition is the staff to do the job.
It was Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s birthday yesterday, 7 January. If this tale is correct, there are however some new-born arrivals this week for whom delays in operations mean they won’t in future years be sharing a 7 January birthday with the Deputy PM, thanks to the financial austerity which his coalition government is applying even to provision for the safe and timely delivery of babies.