Fears are already sparked before the provision of a new neonatal unit at Antrim Hospital, The Northern Health & Social Care Trust board have passed a new neonatal care unit that will be too small in regards to RQIA standards.
The NHSCT and the historical legacy Trusts that governed the Mid Ulster and Antrim Hospital failed to make extra provisions at Antrim Area Hospital post the stripping down of services at Mid Ulster despite health chiefs being warned in 2005 that without development the biggest risk they could undertake was
shutting Mid Ulster maternity. The new business case specifically states that the ward had not been developed since 1994, this revelation is worrying enough considering that Mid Ulster lost all of these services in 2006.
The business case, (see attachment) was approved by the board without question on the 24th May 2012, despite the warning that the unit size will only have 13 square meters around the cots instead of the RQIA recommended 15 square meters for infection control. Save The Mid responded to this business case at the Northern Health & Social Care Boards monthly meeting on the 24th May, Chairman Hugh McCloy cited that the board had passed a A&E unit which is the same size of the current one, a new mental health ward which is to small according to projected attendances and now the neonatal unit that does not meet RQIA standards, the board did not answer to this question.
The last 2 years have seen a total of 92 recommendation’s into maternity services in Northern Ireland, what assurances have we got that 32 recommendations from 2012 will be implemented while we are still waiting
from the rest to happen.
Since 1999, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust area has seen a 37% drop in the average amount of maternity inpatient beds, there was no extra development when the Route was closed or Mid Ulster maternity was closed (see attachment average beds available). This was a high risk moved as identified in 2005 in a risk assessment so in fact since the inception of the
trust in 2007 they have been fully aware that mothers entering into their hospital do so at the risk of Antrim or Causeway not having enough room to admit them.
This was later proved by RQIA in 2010 when it stated that within the NHSCT there were 4,493 births within the NHSCT; however 1,813 mothers within the trust boundaries gave birth in another health trust. Potentially there could have been 6,306 births in the NHSCT. Serious doubts would have to be considered if
the NHSCT would have the capacity for these deliveries.