Yes, we need to Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital again!
The future of Liverpool Women’s Hospital was mentioned at the ICS board on 4th August 2022. The Integrated Care Board is the new structure which will manage the Conservative designed health system in Cheshire and Merseyside. The item is on page 39. It refers to a decision to commission a report on all the hospitals in Liverpool.
“The review needs to address the longstanding issue and position of Liverpool Women’s Hospital NHS Trust, which has been subject to clinical review, however, a solution is yet to be agreed. There are areas of outstanding practice and service which should be identified and built upon”.
The review will be based on the One Liverpool report which was started in about 2015 and concluded that Liverpool Women’s hospital should move to the Royal “including a preferred option: a new hospital for women’s and neonatal services on the new Royal Liverpool Hospital campus, which was seen to offer the greatest number of benefits for patient care”.
Now however there is no money for a new hospital. This is stated categorically in the minutes of the shadow ICS board quoted later in this article and was repeated at the ICS board on 4th August.
It needs to bring absolute clarity to the capital question. We are not expecting a new hospital in the next six years and this needs to be stated.” (page 23 of shadow ICB minutes)
The review of course is being conducted by a private company Carnall Farrar ( HSSF Lot 6)
Our campaign aim is clear. No more cuts. Fully fund our hospital. Keep it on its Crown Street Site as a hospital dedicated to Women and Babies.
We will report in another article about the full ICS meeting on the 4th August.
Liverpool Women’s Hospital is essential to the healthcare of women and babies in Liverpool and beyond. This is the largest maternity hospital in the country and is much loved by the people of Merseyside and beyond. About 8,000 babies are born at Liverpool Women’s every year. There was a huge campaign to keep it open last time it was threatened (from 2015) and the Hospital stayed at Crown Street. Major investments were made at the site including a 20 million pound neonatal unit. Now we face a renewed threat. Let’s make sure we build a similar campaign this time. Our online petition is here. We also have a paper petition. Please do ask friends to sign it
The current threats to the Liverpool Women’s Hospital must be opposed with all our strength. Health care across the UK is in trouble. This is the worst time for more cuts. We need more staff and resources in healthcare, not more cuts and reductions in services. Neither will we sacrifice care for women and babies to fit arbitrary financial limits set by the new health boards (ICB). Healthcare is an essential investment. It makes us all healthier, happier and wealthier.
The Integrated Care Board is the new organisation imposed by the awful Health and Care Act 2022.
Proposals, which we consider to be very damaging for Liverpool Women’s Hospital, were made public on Friday 1st July, at the first meeting of the Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care Board. Minutes of the Shadow Integrated Care Board Thursday 9th June 2022 – 10:00 to 11.30 were included in the paperwork. On Page 19 there is a discussion of the future of Liverpool Women’s Hospital. More detailed discussions took place at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital Board meeting on the 7th of July 2022 (At the ICB there was also a discussion of plans for, in effect, merging all the hospitals in Liverpool).
There is no “capital” (money to pay for buildings and very large equipment) available, so no new building but all other options are on the table, from the dispersal of services to other hospitals to a merger, and moving other services into the Crown Street site.
Liverpool Women’s Hospital is a tertiary service. The NHS defines this as “highly specialized medical care usually over an extended period of time that involves advanced and complex procedures and treatments performed by medical specialists in state-of-the-art facilities”.
One reason given for the proposed changes is the lack of long-term intensive care at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. We were assured some time ago that short-term Intensive care is available but patients who need long-term care need to be transferred to the Royal, one mile from Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Ormskirk Hospital has a similar situation. We say, if a unit is required at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, then that should be provided. It is unlikely to be heavily used at Liverpool Women’s Hospital but could provide spare capacity against times of need as we saw in the first two waves of the pandemic.
It is our understanding that Broadgreen Hospital also transfers intensive care patients to the Royal site which is much further away than Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
Patients are transferred into Liverpool Women’s Hospital from miles away, including the Isle of Man. More patients are transferred into Liverpool Women’s Hospital than are transferred out (according to earlier board papers). Every hospital transfers patients between hospitals.
Babies born at Liverpool Women’s Hospitals must sometimes be transferred a day after birth to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital for surgery and they are then sent back to the neo-natal unit at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
We want the local hospitals to cooperate with each other without losing focus on their core tasks. The core business of Liverpool Women’s Hospital is the health of women and babies. The Ockendon report showed how maternity can be overlooked in an acute hospital. We do not want services dispersed. We need the focus on women’s health.
We don’t want staff stretched across many hospitals. Staff form a team, and that team needs to know each other, needs to know the equipment and the building. It is teamwork that gets the best out of any workplace.
Once the UK had the best health service in the world. According to The Commonwealth Fund Report 2021 today UK health care is now fourth in the world of the top ten wealthiest countries following years of Austerity. The American corporations brought in to advise on such matters come from the worst such health service “The United States ranks last overall, despite spending far more of its gross domestic product on health care. The U.S. ranks last on access to care, administrative efficiency, equity, and health care outcome...”
There are still world class services being delivered in parts of healthcare in England. We have to protect those parts that still deliver a good service and fight for restoration and repair in the damaged and privatised sections It is not just Liverpool Women’s Hospital under threat, people are having to fight for hospitals across the country. There are campaigns around the country to save Hospitals, Save Ormskirk and Southport Hospital, Save Chorley A+ E, St Heliers in London and many more are running a big campaign too,
Midwives too need our support in their campaigns for more resources.
The staff at Liverpool Women’s Hospital go above and beyond what they are paid. We do regular stalls in the street to Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital and we never fail to find warm gratitude to the staff for their skilled care and kindness. The hospital is far from perfect and many staff express dissatisfaction with the workload and lack of time to do the job they want to do. We campaign for more resources, more staff and proper consultation with the staff ( not prearranged to fit the ICS plans) as to what is needed to let them do the very best for the patients they care for.
Babies’ health is important! This is so, especially in Liverpool, where child poverty is such a problem. We should do our very best for the babies, but our babies are very much at risk.
IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) continues to improve in most rich countries, with recent data showing that in countries such as Japan and Finland the IMR has dipped to only 2 per thousand. In Liverpool, where some of us work, the infant mortality rate is now an unacceptable 6.8 – more than twice as high as London’s average.
We demand a safe space for women to give birth. One in three women have experienced sexual violence, and pregnancy is a key time for domestic violence to begin. Liverpool Women’s Hospital is a women’s place, where women’s needs are given priority. Why should we surrender this asset?
Women’s healthcare is damaged. Women’s health is important.
“Female healthy life expectancy at birth in the most deprived areas was 19.3 years fewer than in the least deprived areas (from) 2018 to 2020; females and males living in the most deprived areas of England saw a significant decrease in life expectancy between 2015 to 2017, and 2018 to 2020.
In 2018 to 2020, females living in the most deprived areas were expected to live less than two-thirds (66.3%) of their lives in good general health, compared with more than four-fifths (82.0%) in the least deprived areas.
There were significant decreases in female disability-free life expectancy at birth in both deprived and less deprived areas between 2015 to 2017 and 2018 to 2020; sizable reductions of almost two years occurred in Decile 2 and Decile 7.”
Nationally we are all affected by these issues, be they in maternity, the ambulances, GP services, mental health provision or on waiting lists. Women’s healthcare is particularly damaged. Surrendering services for women will not help other patients one jot. Tackling these problems must be prioritised.
“In England, the number of women waiting over a year for care is at its highest point ever in gynaecology. This has increased from just sixty-six women in February 2020 to over 28,800 at the end of April 2022, leaving women living with symptoms including extreme pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, and incontinence for far longer than they should.”
This move will hurt the poorest of us the most.
Liverpool Women’s Hospital is in Liverpool and Merseyside which already suffers from poverty and deprivation and the hospital is in one of the poorest areas of the city. The immediate area around Liverpool Women’s Hospital is home to some of the most deprived people, those who have poor outcomes in pregnancy and are most likely to experience ill health.
Women from Black ethnic groups are four times more likely to die in pregnancy than women from White groups, and women from Asian ethnic backgrounds are almost twice as likely.
Pregnant women living in the most deprived areas are twice as likely to die than those living in the most affluent areas.
Even the bus service connecting Liverpool Women’s Hospital, Alder Hey Hospital, and Broad Green Hospital, is due to have its frequency cut from one every half-hour, to one an hour.
This hospital is woven into the life stories of our families.
Liverpool Women’s Hospital provides not just gynaecology but also maternity care This is where most Liverpool babies are born, and where complex cases are cared for. Many families treasure this hospital because it is here that their babies were born, and where babies’ lives are saved. Many families speak warmly of the care they received after the death of a baby. Every public campaign stall we do we hear praise for the staff at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
Nationally and locally staff and patients are aware of the ongoing damage to our healthcare from austerity policies. We can see A&E crammed and waiting long hours there, too few beds to admit patients in need of care, ambulances unable to attend all the calls that they should, long waiting lists for key operations and privatisation in its many forms.
In Liverpool, we have seen hospital mergers that have not been well prepared or executed, and we see the new Liverpool Royal Hospital, massively and wastefully expensive but still not open in July 2022, so let’s pretend that all is well. All this is documented in Care Quality Commission reports
The National Health Service was founded as this country was recovering from an all-out war. Our grandparents fought for and won universal, comprehensive public service healthcare. We need to win it back. This country cannot afford to neglect healthcare. We need to restore and repair the National Health Service, fully funded and publicly deliver without privatisation and continuing cuts
For all our mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, and lovers and for all our babies, Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
Please sign our petition. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-liverpool-women-s-hospital
The papers cited here can be found below but here are key quotes
We will cover other aspects of these proposals in other posts
This video which is included in the paperwork of the Liverpool Women’s Hospital Board explains more. Lynn Greenhalgh is the medical director of LWH. Lynn asks staff to consider which hospital their service could be dispersed to.
“AMA felt that there was an option to take a pragmatic approach and improve the current situation by moving staff around sites or swapping services over using existing sites. JLE confirmed that these options are all included in the new Optional Appraisal. JLE informed the board that consideration had been given to splitting Obstetrics and Gynaecology and assessing the risks associated with this” (Page 21 of the shadow minutes)
It needs to bring absolute clarity to the capital question. We are not expecting a new hospital in the next six years and this needs to be stated.” [page 23 of shadow ICB minutes