“Reducing the ratio (of maternity staff in Surrey) to balance the books is the worst of all decisions.”

If Trust Boards and Directors are to be pilloried or dismissed for falling standards, then they have no option other than to close down services. The choice between quality and cost is no longer allowed, (By CQC or patients) so rationing has to increase… So lets make it ethical and explicit. The real risk in continuing denial of the need to ration, is that when it comes, it will be a knee-jerk co-payment system, across an NHS Region, and unfair to the poorest and most diabled.

Kate Gibbons in The Times reported 13 days ago: NHS cuts threaten hospital closures

James Watkins in GetSurrey reports  20th August: Royal Surrey plan to cut midwife numbers amid growing tensions over financial crisis 

and on 23rd August the BBC news reports: Debt-hit Royal Surrey hospital cuts maternity staffing

Image result for balancing the books cartoon

Several midwife vacancies are to be left unfilled at a major hospital that is trying to save £22m.

The Royal Surrey County hospital in Guildford has warned of “some very difficult decisions and changes to working practice”.

It is cutting its midwife-to-mother ratio but insisted “patient safety, standards and care will not be affected”.

A former NHS trust chairman Roy Lilley said it “was a very bad idea”.

“They are sailing very close to the wind by reducing staffing levels. Unfortunately, finding extra midwives (when you need them) is very difficult, you have to resort to emergency agency arrangements which cost the earth or you simply do not get them.

“Reducing the ratio to balance the books is the worst of all decisions.”

The hospital trust said under the ratio, there would be one midwife per 30 mothers, rather than 29.

Retired NHS midwife Val Clarke, from Epsom, said: “It is very worrying. This can only impact on the mothers. When you are very busy, you are unable to give the level of care to each mother that they should be receiving.”

In a statement, Royal Surrey said: “The safety of our patients is our primary concern and as such we measure our midwife acuity levels on a daily basis.”

The trust said the ratio change was “not driven” by its need to make savings, but came from a “normal monthly process” of reviewing nursing and midwifery numbers.

But it also warned: “This year, the trust needs to save over £22m, which means… making some very difficult decisions and changes to working practice.”

Local hospital campaigner Karin Peluso told BBC Surrey: “If this continues at the Royal Surrey and they start slashing at the frontline services, key personnel like midwives, then the hospital could be on a very slippery slope.”

In April, regulator NHS Improvement began an inquiry after the trust recorded an annual deficit of £11m.

It said the trust has since agreed to develop long and short term plans to improve its finances “without impacting on patient care”.

Image result for balancing the books cartoon


This entry was posted in A Personal View, Commissioning, Midwives, NHS managers, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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