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Anti-Cuts Campaign Builds Support

Maternity Services In Devon


A campaign to force an NHS trust into reversing rules that will see women prevented from staying in its maternity units overnight is growing fast.

Thousands have registered their intention to join the fight to stop NHS Devon's plan to end its 24-hour care provision for new mothers at community hospitals in Okehampton, Honiton and Tiverton. If the trust gets its way, mothers will be sent home the same day on which they give birth.

The trust has claimed that axing the service will improve standards at Tiverton, which had been closed because there was not enough staff, and at Tiverton, where no 24-hour care is currently being provided because of staff shortages.

Around 1,000 people have joined the campaign to fight the cuts at Tiverton and a petition to save the Honiton service was signed by at least 500 people in the town's centre at the weekend. Campaigners against the Honiton cuts have also set up a networking group on the Facebook website and said it has 2,000 members already.

A doctor who works at Coleridge Medical Centre in Ottery St Mary, Tim Cox, said: "It's a pretty frightening experience at 2am, when a first-time mother is trying to get a screaming baby to latch on, and there's nobody around to help."

The area's midwifery services are now to be run by Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

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Julie Lewis, a lawyer from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “We are concerned that this is simply another cost cutting exercise and the policy is not in the interests of patient safety.  We fully support the campaign that has been mounted.”