Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital Campaign has been campaigning since 2015. The threat to the Liverpool Women’s Hospital is now at its most dangerous. The ICB has a whole subcommittee considering its future. For more details see this article
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The whole NHS must be repaired and restored and our hospital’s future is bound up in the future of the NHS.
Investing in healthcare repays the investment many times over. This country cannot afford to let healthcare worsen. Our mothers and babies can’t wait. We need government funding to repair and restore the NHS and we need to kick out the privatisers who leech on our healthcare.
We work with all the local and national health campaigns and with trade unions. We produce leaflets and this blog. We produce posters and banners. We research and we lobby the ICB and elected representatives. All our leaflets are paid for by donations mostly small ones but we like large ones too.
We campaign for babies’ health, maternity services, women’s health, and the whole NHS.
We support the NHS unions and all who fight for decent pay because babies cannot grow up strong on poverty pay.
Every penny of our funds comes from donations.
Please invite us to your organisations to speak about this.
In June 2023 we are focussing on
Getting the facts out to the public
Lobbying the ICB and trust meetings
Working to commemorate the founding of the NHS 75 years ago in a wartorn country, but a country that valued the lives of ordinary people.
Building a march from the Liverpool Women’s Hospital to the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool on October 7th 2023
We continue to gather petition signatures to add to the existing more than forty thousand online signatures, and twenty thousand paper signatures. We held a workshop on the campaign for the hospital recently and had reports from the many aspects of the tasks we face to win this campaign.
We are spreading our campaign widely, and are asking for help to make these issues well known.
We accuse the government of deliberate, political, damage to the NHS. We demand the re-nationalisation of the health service.
We campaign with Cheshire and Merseyside Defend our NHS, Keep our NHS Public, SHA, the Unite Community branches, the Trades Councils in Cheshire, Liverpool, Knowsley , Warrington and Halton, and offer solidarity to the NHS Trade Unions the local Food pantries, and other struggles. If I have forgotten anyone apologise. We link up whenever we can with national campaigns too
Our NHS was created and developed as a publicly owned, government-funded, publicly provided, not-for-profit, national system based on universal treatment, free at the point of need. As such it enhanced the lives of two or more generations of women. The government is now creating a second-rate system that increasingly denies care and forces people to pay or go without.
The working-class women of Liverpool organised, as in the Women’s Cooperative Guild campaign, for free maternity care more than a century ago. We are fighting in that tradition.
More than seven million people are waiting for care, women’s health especially is suffering, life expectancy is falling, especially in poorer areas like Merseyside, and parts of Cheshire, years of life in good health are deteriorating, and care at birth is deteriorating. While this happens, £billions are going to private companies, and the new structures are designed to make the new neo-privatisation work well for big international companies.
A report by the consultants Carnall Farrar was recently presented to the ICB board about the future of Liverpool Women’s Hospital. The Liverpool Place section of the ICB will make recommendations to the ICB when proposals are finalised.
The threat to the future of the hospital comes from years of restructuring on market lines, underfunding in the NHS, and the many market-based “reforms” instituted since 2010. This includes selling off NHS-owned land and buildings, after the Taylor report, without the money being returned to the NHS. It also includes closing hospitals, maternity units and hospital beds. This has all done real damage to the NHS and the care we receive. The recent Health and Care Act and the 44 ICS units across the country are set to make things worse. They are built on a failing US model, called Accountable Care. pressure from campaigners is preventing some of the potential harm but billions of our healthcare pounds are being siphoned off to private profit.
There are cuts as well.
The NHS structures are distorted by marketisation, privatisation, underfunding and understaffing. Adding insult to injury, the government (we are told in the Carnall Farrar report) intends the ICB in Cheshire and Merseyside, to cut £350 million(!) in addition to the Cost Improvement Programme (CIP). CIPs are cuts in funding and were about 5% in 2022-23. In 23-4, the CIP will take even more money out of the system.
In 2023-24 NHS bodies face an average efficiency [cuts] rate of nearly 6 per cent, “significantly harder” than previous years. NHSE says savings are needed to “remove additional capacity” introduced during covid. NHS Providers chief executive Sir Julian Hartley said: “The efficiency challenge for 2023-24 is significantly harder than 2022-23. Trusts relied on non-recurrent funding in 2022-23 to help balance their positions, but inflation is now making it more difficult for trusts to identify sustainable recurrent efficiency savings…“The challenge for 2023-24 will be how to sustainably offset cost growth by improving productivity while continuing to meet the demand for services and deliver national performance targets.
Cheshire and Merseyside face additional cuts. “The Cheshire & Merseyside ICS [funding ] allocation per head to NHS organisations… [is] due to decrease by c.£300 million over the coming years.”
“Alongside this, the new Specialised Commissioning allocation will mean that Cheshire and Merseyside will be allocated £50 million less income from specialised commissioning.”
“Localgovernment in Liverpool and across Cheshire and Merseyside has also seen one of the largest decreases in real terms spending power since 2010 with a decrease of £700 per head of the population.”
(Carnall Farrar report).
Crucial services are delivered at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Day after day, night after night, babies are delivered at Crown Street. Antenatal appointments and scans happen. Cancers are treated. Gynaecological operations happen, and the new robotic surgery for endometriosis saves women from long-term pain and post-operative pain. Outpatient appointments go on, the neonatal unit thrives, the genetics team advise families, the Honeysuckle team helps bereaved families, and the community midwives work outside the hospital.
The hospital has just been declared a maternal medicine centre. Women and babies from across Cheshire and Merseyside use the hospital for complex cases. Babies from the Isle of Man and Wales are often sent to Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Liverpool Women’s has its problems, and there is much to be done there to restore and repair its services, as in the wider NHS.
Research goes on to improve the survival of women and babies, the research team at LWH was the first of its kind. A major new study hopefully involving ten thousand children is about to start, led by Liverpool University in conjunction with Liverpool Women’s Hospital. The study “Children Growing Up in Liverpool” (C-GULL) is the first large-scale birth cohort study in the Liverpool City Region and will track 10,000 firstborn babies and their families from early pregnancy through childhood and beyond.
The Liverpool Women’s Hospital building on Crown Street is less than 30 years old and has had a major multi-million-pound development of neo-natal care in the last few years. It has pioneered robotic surgery for endometriosis. It is the hospital that deals with complex cases and, crucially, thousands of babies are born there each year. It is a much-loved hospital on a pleasant garden site. The Hospital’s immediate area serves some of the most deprived but vibrant communities in the ICB area. It is a vitally needed resource for the neighbourhood, the city and the wider region.
We fight to keep Liverpool Women’s Hospital and we fight for it to be much better funded and have much better staffing.
We support the Staff in their pay disputes and recognise that they are fighting for the safety of patients as well as a decent wage for themselves.
‘Where would men be without women? Scarce boy, mighty scarce’. (Mark Twain).
The detail of the situation facing Liverpool Women’s Hospital in May 2023.
This is our understanding of the situation facing Liverpool Women’s Hospital in May 2023, and the background to our ongoing campaign to Save the Hospital, to restore and repair the NHS, and to fight for better healthcare for women and babies.
There is an ICB working party on the future of Liverpool Women’s Hospital, following the publication of the Carnall Farrar Review(page 147) in January 2023.
These meetings have not been in public nor have minutes been published. As can be seen in the diagram below there is a subcommittee of the ICB under the title “Liverpool Women’s Services” including Liverpool University Hospital Trust Liverpool Women’s Hospital, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Clatterbridge. It is supposed to meet monthly but we have not been allowed access to its minutes, nor have meetings been held in public.
We presented just some of the 62,000 signatures on the petition to Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital and succeeded in gaining a decision to note rather than to “accept” the review document. This was covered in local media and here.
Nonetheless, all the processes recommended in the review appear to be underway exactly as if we had not succeeded in getting the review noted, rather than accepted.
Specifically, seven of twelve co-dependencies for maternal medicine centres and therefore for consultant-led obstetric services are not currently met at the Crown Street site. This results in fragmentation of services for women and babies, with some requiring ambulance transfer to other providers to receive the care they need. This, given the clinical circumstances necessitating the transfer, carries an inherent risk, and results in mothers and babies being separated. There is an imperative opportunity and shared will amongst the acute and specialist providers to respond to the current case for change, developing a future care model to ensure the best possible care for women and babies across Liverpool.
Our campaign has responded to this elsewhere but a few points are worth repeating.
We totally approve of collaboration and cooperation between hospitals. The internal market, introduced as part of the marketisation of the NHS, which set hospitals up as separate organisations competing with each other has been an unmitigated disaster, one of many since 2010. Cooperation between hospitals is important. However, the resources required must be made available to allow this to happen without increasing the existing inequalities and underfunding. In a time of cuts, we don’t fall for sweet words from this government.
Ambulance transfers are a normal part of the NHS. The ambulance service must be improved and staff must be better paid and have better working conditions. We can all remember when this was so. Suppose a patient presents with a stroke at Liverpool Royal. In that case, they are transferred to Aintree, with major trauma, they are transferred to Aintree, with significant heart issues to the Heart and Chest, brain injuries to the Walton Centre, complex cancer to Clatterbridge, and obstetric problems to Liverpool Women’s Hospital. If there is immediate risk to the patient a specialist from the other hospital comes across to the sending hospital. Patients from Wirral and other areas are also transferred to the specialist provisions in Liverpool. Transfers between Liverpool Women’s and the Royal site are the shortest distance of transfers in Liverpool, except transfers between the New Royal and the New Clatterbridge Centre. We are told doctors working between the two sites generally walk as it is too short a distance to drive. It is about 1.3 miles down a straight road.
“The most important challenge stakeholdersidentified was ….” But the most important stakeholders are the women of Liverpool, Merseyside and Cheshire. We were not asked, so who are these stakeholders? We literally do not know!
The Crown Street site “Specifically seven of twelve co-dependencies for maternal medicine centres and therefore for consultant-led obstetric services are not currently met at the Crown Street site.” Despite apparently not meeting the criteria for being a maternal medicine centre the Hospital has been given that status, and will operate as such from July. It is already a leading obstetric centre for the whole ICB area and beyond.
Sick Mothers and babies being separated is obviously heart-wrenching and creates problems with bonding. It is quite rare. Such separations should be minimised, though a mother in a high-dependency unit cannot care for her baby. One of the examples of unacceptable practice quoted was a receiving hospital not having a fridge to store breast milk. That is unacceptable but not a reason to close a whole hospital, a critical facility for women’s health. Saving lives comes first. Babies are also routinely transferred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital for life-saving surgery. There is a plan to take some neo-natal nurses to form a joint neo-natal post-operative centre in Alder Hey. However, for years babies have been successfully sent from Liverpool Women’s to Alder Hey for surgery and brought back to the Liverpool Women’s neonatal unit, recently rebuilt and extended at the cost of £20 million.
Why are they talking about a new building? The ICB ( the organisation that runs the health service In Cheshire and Merseyside after the latest Health and Care Act) has said, categorically, there is no capital, i.e. no money available for a rebuild, yet the plans put forward constantly cite the plan for a rebuild of Liverpool Women’s hospital, on the Royal site. The story of the 40 new hospitals promised by Boris Johnson, but still nowhere to be found, shows how much faith we can put in that.
The favoured solution, we have long been told, is one huge hospital including a general acute hospital, a Women’s Hospital and a Children’s Hospital but after the new buildings at Alder Hey and at Liverpool Royal that will simply not happen.
The Leeds example. Leeds had a promise of a new children’s hospital backing 2018. It has never materialised and now all that is promised is a wing of a new hospital
We want Liverpool Women’s Hospital to stay on the existing Crown Street site and to be well-funded and well-staffed. We won’t be fobbed off by the dispersal of the services on the promise of a new hospital at some point in the future. We learn from what has happened in Leeds. Leeds was promised two new hospitals. Now it is promised two new hospital wings and there is little progress on them.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust operates seven hospitals across five sites: St James’s Hospital, Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds Children’s Hospital, Chapel Allerton Hospital, Seacroft Hospital, Wharfedale Hospital and the Leeds Dental Institute. The children’s services are far too dispersed being provided at various sites The hospital’s website says “Most of our services are provided from the Clarendon Wing of Leeds General Infirmary. On occasion, however, you may be asked to go to one of our other sites.
Empty promises and delays. In September 2019 at the Conservative Party conference, an extra 40 new hospitals were announced, including Leeds. £2.7 billion was allocated. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the cost of the 40 hospitals could reach £24bn. In the Health Infrastructure Plan Leeds was down for rebuilding by 2025. In 2020 the Department of Health announced 40 hospitals would be built. The money allocated was 3.7 billion (The list included the Liverpool Royal as a new hospital!).
Leeds was on the list but now included Leeds Children’s Hospital in one project with the acute hospital. £3.7 billion was considered too little money for 40 hospitals.
Full facts commented “The majority of the projects are either replacements for existing hospitals, new wings or buildings for existing hospitals, or refurbishments. The government defines all these projects as “new hospitals”, but critics of the programme disagree.”
The Nuffield Trust as reported on BBC said “There won’t be “40 more hospitals” by 2030. The projects that do involve building entirely new general hospitals are designed to coincide with the closure of old hospitals. And they were both due to open before the government made its hospitals pledge.
In August 2022 Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “We’re taking steps to support our NHS with 40 new hospitals in England, and the planned developments in Leeds will provide a state-of-the-art acute specialist facility alongside a new home for the Leeds Children’s Hospital, providing better care for young and old alike.” So far the only funding has been to clear the site. The hospitals were due to be opened in 2025.
The hospital found itself at the centre of an election campaign debate after the Yorkshire Evening Post reported on the case of a four-year-old boy with suspected pneumonia who was forced to sleep on the floor due to a lack of beds. Mr Puntis from Keep our NHS Public said: “Leeds Infirmary is one of these ‘new hospitals’ but in reality, this turns out to be two new wings – one a unit for adult outpatients, intensive care and day case procedures, and the other a building to bring together current children’s beds under one roof. The four-year-old boy’s plight highlighted in the national media was a stark reminder of the chronic pressures on hospital beds. Despite an obvious shortage in Leeds, the new ‘children’s hospital’ will not increase the overall bed base, to the frustration of medical staff who grapple with the problems of bed shortages on a daily basis including frequent cancellation of elective surgery.”
We hope Leeds does quickly get its new Children’s Hospital wing and services can be improved, but we we won’t hold our breath…
The Government is using promises of new hospitals as a public relations exercise. “Please remember that all press notices still need clearance from DHSC“.
The National Health Service in England is a huge enterprise. Rebuilding and repairing the buildings of that organisation should be routine, planned over decades and centrally funded by the Government. Every urbanised, advanced economy requires a healthcare structure to continue its normal existence. That health structure requires government investment and the investment is repaid many times to the wealth and health of the people and the economy. In many different ways, recent governments have offered sections of our healthcare system to private companies as an opportunity to make money. The PFI failure at Liverpool Royal shows just what harm that has done.
We want resources put into making LWH well-funded and well-connected to other hospitals whilst staying on the same site.
What’s happening with this review?
The Carnall Farrar report also says “A set of principles have been proposed for partners to observe within the scope of Liverpool Clinical Services Review. Once these are agreed they will be shared.” This set of principles has not been shared with the public.
There are other Liverpool specialist hospitals included in Carnall Farrar review sub-committees; Liverpool University Hospital Trust with the Walton Centre, Liverpool University Hospital Trust with the Heart and Chest, and Liverpool University Hospital Trust with Clatterbridge.
The recommendations in the Carnall Farrar report about Liverpool Women’s Hospital are a rehash of the Future Generations plans, first published years ago, and are aimed at closing the existing Crown Street site and relocating/dispersing the service.
When we presented just some of the sixty thousand plus signatories on our petition, we said, “Listen to the Women”. The ICB has had one meeting with us. This is not consultation, this is not listening.
Staff have been told the Hospital is moving. People working at Liverpool Women’s Hospital report that they are being told the hospital is going to move, not told that there may be proposals on which the public can have a say, but that the hospital will move. This hospital is not a private business, it’s a public service and the people, the patients, the families and the staff must have a say.
We have fewer doctors per head of population than most of the richer European countries and fewer hospital beds. Our health service is impoverished. Yet investment in healthcare returns wealth to the economy A poor health service is not only painful and possibly fatal to the individual, it makes the economy weaker.
Hospitals and the ICB working as a system not as competitiors.
The ICS and the Trusts are now supposed to be working as a “system” rather than a group of competing institutions as in the 2012 Act. The ICS (Integrated Care System) is headed by the ICB (Integrated Care Board) which holds most of the purse strings but the hospital trusts still have legal responsibilities and their own priorities. Monies the trusts have accumulated are supposed to be available to the system. Within Cheshire and Merseyside, for historical, geographic and economic reasons, Liverpool has greater need and greater debts. This does not mean that the other areas have plenty of resources. Indeed Crewe has real difficulties and patterns of unequal access to health care are stark. The ICS is an attempt to build a system where all the providers work together within one budget and share resources.
A review of three early ICBs stated that “There remain significant challenges regarding agreeing governance, accountability and decision-making arrangements which are particularly important”. ICBs have been chosen not based on evidence but on the model from the US Accountable Care.
“From July to February, nearly 2900 private companies received over £3.9bn, as shown by the available monthly spending reports from 40 ICBs. The biggest winner, Circle Health Group Ltd, received nearly £169m from 36 ICBs. Yet Circle was already notorious for its failed takeover of Hinchingbrooke Hospital in 2011 and exit in 2015, and the under-utilisation of capacity block-booked for Covid in 2020.”
Cuts in real termsfunding
Every hospital in Cheshire and Merseyside is expected to make CIPs (Cost Improvement Plans, otherwise known as cuts) in this time of waiting lists and multiple NHS crises.
“The system has delivered the financial position at the end of the year comprising a £42.4m deficit on the provider side, offset by a £12.7m surplus on combined CCG/ICB side.” (Page 56 of the ICB papers)
The Countess of Chester, Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, the Mid Cheshire Foundation Trust and Wirral University Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are all noted as being in even greater deficit than expected (page 61 of the ICB papers).
Liverpool University Hospital Trust (The Royal Aintree and Broadgreen) has one of the largest financial problems. It is at Level 4, the highest level of difficulty. Liverpool Women’s Hospital is also having a very difficult year financially. Therefore, the problems at the Royal do not indicate that a merger with the Royal would solve any financial problems for Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Maternity in acute hospitals is normally subsidised by the main budget. Liverpool Universities Hospital Trust is in no position to do that.
Maternity nationally is underfunded and understaffed including in Liverpool Women’s Hospital. This has been consistently reported.
We say maternity must be well-funded. That’s where the battle lines between the people and the government must be drawn. Fund maternity. Stop unnecessary baby deaths, and stop hospitals from having to scrimp and save to fund an understaffed service.
The funding structure is a major cause of problems for Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Our campaign said this was the core problem years ago. It still is.
Liverpool Women’s Hospital is a smaller-than-average hospital and provides necessarily expensive services. It is a Foundation Trust and as such has to have a high level of management services.
Liverpool Women’s Hospital has been working towards having a senior consultant on site all night. This should have happened years ago. This year’s financial state means they will have to postpone this plan. This is a disgrace.
The staffing situation is a major problem for Liverpool Women’s Hospital. The government sets the number of midwives needed by a formula called birth rate plus. It clearly is not adequate but that’s what the hospital is funded to provide. LWH appears not to have always met this staffing ratio. How the staff are deployed is a hospital decision and management’s responsibility. Not only is birthrate-plus inadequate so is the National Maternity Tarrif, the core funding for maternity.
Doctors, nurses’ midwives and other health workers are warning us about the state of the NHS. We must heed their warnings. For more than ten years their effort over and above what they are paid to do has kept the NHS afloat. NHS staff are underpaid and overworked and over-stressed.
Repairing and Restoring Liverpool’s health care must start with removing the private companies who are distorting the public service model. We are paying companies to deny us care.
The health service must work on retaining and recruiting staff, paying them well, making work manageable and stopping bullying management tactics.
The Liverpool Women’s Hospital and the neonatal service save many babies lives but there are some issues of concern. The survival rate for very prem does not match Manchester’s. LWH is an “outlier “ on this and work is underway to find out the reasons.
Too many agency workers are used because of recruitment, retention and sickness issues in the staff.
The staffing issues mean that well-established teams have been broken up, and secondments recalled. The midwife-led unit has frequently been closed and staff redeployed to the delivery suits.
Backlogs in gynaecological treatment and cancer are being tackled in part through an outside company, using the hospital’s theatres and equipment.
How do we win this battle to both Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Restore and Repair NHS?
The NHS was founded by ordinary people, not by great lords. They had to campaign just as we are campaigning now. Despite the impoverishment of the county after World War 2, we won it. We had health care for all, the best treatments available free at the point of need. The NHS has had an amazing effect on the health of our families and especially our children.
We need to keep Liverpool Women’s Hospital and we are looking for support from women and men in the area and nationally to do so.
We need to Repair and Restore the NHS to its original model; Government funded, publicly delivered, universal, free at the point of need, a public service.
We need rid of the profiteers, the huge international companies and the market idealogues around whom the government is remaking our NHS.
We need more funding. Investment in healthcare repays the county in many ways
We need better pay and conditions for staff.
An efficient workforce plan to ensure recruitment and retention.
An end to the multiple kinds of privatisation, and charging.
A high-quality buildings programme with sustainability at its heart.
An end to the internal market in the NHS and full cooperation between hospitals.
All of this requires a huge campaign because this government has shown its attitude to the NHS. Labour needs to see that we will not support them in continuing any of this government’s policies.
This campaign is like the suffragettes’ movement, the recent Irish abortion rights movement, the movement for women’s rights, the poll tax movement, and the fight for the 8-hour day and rights at work. It has to come from the people. W have to be prepared to fight for it for the NHS.
Support the campaign. Sign the petition. Get involved in the campaign. Come and help. Help organise for the anniversary of the founding of the NHS. Help our October 7th demonstration.
In a long campaign from the 1960s, women fought for birth to be seen as a normal human process with the women in charge.
We want to keep a Women’s Hospital. Our hospital, from its early days in the 1990s, developed as a wonderful women’s space, where women felt valued, safe and respected. That too must be retained.
Maternity nationally is underfunded and understaffed both nationally and in Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Women’s health is not given the same level of priority as given to men. This has been consistently reported by reports of great authority. We are fortunate to have such reports. So our contentions in this article are not just from our own experiences, not just an assertion of our campaign, they are, terrible though it is to see, the established facts.
We insist that these reports are considered when making decisions about the future of Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
“A new report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Baby Loss finds that staffing shortages are having significant impacts across services provided before and during birth and the neonatal period including bereavement care. The report….. finds a “bleak picture” for maternity and neonatal services that “are understaffed, overstretched and letting down women, families and maternity staff, alike”.” (Sands.org)
One of the signatories to this All Party Parliamentary Report is Jeremy Hunt, the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is declining to fund these services to the level required to improve maternity care.
“NHS Providers, as cited in the recent Select Committee report, has estimated the cost of full expansion of the maternity services workforce to be £200m – £350m. We endorse and support this view.” https://www.ockendenmaternityreview.org.uk/
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) wrote in 2022 “Despite the greater national focus on maternity in recent years and the welcome improvements it has led to, the pace of progress has been too slow and action to ensure all women have access to safe, effective, and truly personalised maternity care has not been sufficiently prioritised to mitigate risk and help prevent future tragedies from occurring.”
The CQC also said “Addressing inequalities in access and tailoring maternity services to best meet the needs of the local population is a critical area for action and something that good services are prioritising. “
All of this evidence supports the call to save Liverpool Women’s Hospital and to improve its funding and staffing.
Maternity care should be respectful of the women giving birth, respectful of the babies, and their families. Birth plans are important and help the birthing mother maintain understanding and control over her experience. There can be unpredicted difficulties in any birth. When these difficulties arise good hospital maternity care must be available. Traumatic birth can have long-term physical and mental health issues for the mother and baby. Care is also needed after the birth.
Underfunding, understaffing (and the kind of management that comes from underfunding and understaffing), the internal market and years of austerity, have led to baby deaths and all the loss and misery that goes with such bereavements.
(If you or someone close needs help with these issues please do contact Tommy’s or the wonderful Honeysuckle team at Liverpool Women’s Hospital or Sands).
If these facts make you weep with anger, join our campaign.
Poverty and discrimination also cause problems in pregnancy, birth and in the post natal period
“…the neonatal mortality rate increases according to the level of deprivation in the area the mother lives in, with almost twice as many babies dying in the most deprived areas compared with the least deprived areas (12 compared with 22 per 10,000).”
Liverpool Women’s Hospital serves some of the poorest areas in England, being set in the most income-deprived areas of the country.
“Overall, 32.7% of households in Liverpool are deprived in one way. The neighbourhood of the city (and across Merseyside) with the highest level is Chinatown, St James & Georgian Quarter, where 37.4% of households are deprived in one dimension, with areas around Hampton Street, the Baltic Triangle and Mill Street particularly hard hit.” Some of these areas are over 50 per cent in deprivation.
Poverty and privatisation are a deadly mix. 86% of the burden of austerity has fallen on women. Poverty, austerity and cuts in health spending make this a triple whammy against the poor.
“The analysis suggests that a 1% decrease in healthcare spend will generate 2484 additional deaths. So the ‘loss’ of 13.64% in healthcare spend between 2010-11 and 2014-15 will have caused 33,888 extra deaths, calculate the researchers.”
“Each year, 35 million newborns worldwide are born preterm (<37 weeks of gestation) or small-for-gestational-age, and may be low birthweight (<2500 g). These small vulnerable newborns (SVNs) have markedly reduced survival chances, with more than half (55·3%) of the 2·4 million neonatal deaths in 2020 attributed to being a SVN. The survivors are vulnerable to health problems throughout their life course, including poor neurodevelopmental outcomes, low educational achievement, and increased risks of adulthood non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, and stroke. Indeed, this effect is also intergenerational. For society, there are important human capital, economic, and productivity losses as well as costs such as health-care related costs.“
The proposals for Liverpool Women’s Hospital are happening in a time of health underfunding, the reorganization into ICBs and increasing poverty. The Liverpool Women’s Hospital must be protected and improved, not moved, dispersed or anything else. The local health bosses must not be allowed to use Women’s and Babies’ health to make savings or profit.
We are all too aware of the cost of living crisis and of inflation hitting the poorest hardest. The third child born to a family claiming benefits is not given financial support because of the two child rule introduced under Teresa May’s Government. About one in three families have three children. Half of all households in the UK claim some kind of benefit.Poverty is getting worse according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation
It’s not just underfunding and understaffing, it’s poverty too. Our hospital serves a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial community in Merseyside. Our women face all these well-recorded problems. We must retain and repair our hospital.
Hospitals, including Liverpool Women’s Hospital, are expected to make cuts even during this crisis.
LiverpoolWomen’s Hospital was expected to make 5% CIPs (CIP is NHS speak for cuts) in 22-23 and 6% on 23-24. In addition to this spending to make good staffing levels criticised by the CQC report has pushed the Hospital into a greater deficit and could push it to a situation where outsiders come in and decide where cuts should be made. The structure of the health service, especially since the 2012 Health and Care Act, meant hospitals had to use market models. Hospitals are not markets, they are services.
The British Medical Associationsaid as far back as 2018 that “The internal market has turned our public hospitals into businesses in which, when there is a conflict between financial health and patients’ health, financial health trumps”. For further information on the internal market, this is a good information sheet.
Maternal deaths, baby deaths, maternal injury and baby injury are made worse by political decisions to underfund healthcare and especially women’s healthcare, and by the ongoing reorganisation of health services to favour the private company profit.”The gradual privatisation of the NHS may be a complex subject, but it is there – quiet and deliberate”.
Regulations are no substitute for staff.
The Government responds not by implementing these multiple reports but by issuing page after page of regulationsfor maternity. In the introduction to the All Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss, there are weasel words, a get out, in the statement:
“While there is no escaping the fact that maternity and neonatal services require substantial and sustained investment, a view echoed by most respondents, many of the measures advocated by respondents could be implemented quickly and with little additional expense.” This contradicts the weight of evidence from their own report and gives them a get out for not providing the “substantial and sustainable funding” that is needed.
Similarly, the government, by relying on lengthy new regulations, attempts to present system failure as staff failures. These regulations will improve matters only if midwives have time for in-service education, good unpressured induction into the profession, a decent work-life balance and fully staffed, fully qualified and experienced staff in the delivery suite, on the wards, in the clinics and in the community. For these regulations to work we also need sufficient obstetricians and anaesthetists.
Midwives matter to women giving birth and have done through the ages. It is crucial to protect this ancient profession. There is a petition here. “Midwife” means ‘with woman’. The profession wants to work with the natural and powerful processes of the woman’s body as she gives birth, seeing it as natural and normal. That process can take time and is not as easy for hospitals to manage as planned caesarian sections, nor as easy as the 1970s nightmare of women being told when they will be induced, like it or not.
Shortages of midwives, obstetricians and anaesthetists are a national problem.
Midwives are being driven out of the NHS by understaffing and fears they can’t deliver safe care to women in the current system, according to a new survey of its members by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).
The College is warning of a ‘midwife exodus’ as it publishes the results of its annual member experiences of work survey.
The Guardian reported on pain relief problems for women giving birth because of staffing issues amongst Anaesthetists.
Mothers giving birth are suffering damage to physical and mental health because of underfunding, understaffing, poor management and poor staff training. These are all cited in the reports mentioned above.
Summary of the issues reported in MBRRACE as Increasing since 2012-2014
• Deaths during pregnancy & up to 6 weeks after, are 24% higher than in 2017-19 (MBRRACE Report).
Maternal Mortality nationally
Direct: Thrombosis/thromboembolism, then suicide, sepsis, haemorrhage. Indirect (52% of all): Cardiac disease.
• 1:9 women who died had severe multiple disadvantage (mental health diagnosis, substance use, domestic abuse).
• 2020: women three times more likely to die by suicide (during pregnancy & up 6 weeks after) compared with 2017-19.
• Suicide: the leading cause of direct deaths within the year after pregnancy.
• Mental ill-health & heart disease are on an equal footing as the cause of maternal deaths, representing 30% of maternal deaths during or up to six weeks after pregnancy.
The Lancet also recently published this article about how poverty affects pregnancy.
We say maternity must be well-funded. That is where the battle lines between the people and the government must be drawn. Fund maternity. staff maternity. pay the staff well. Stop unnecessary baby deaths, and stop hospitals from having to scrimp and save to fund an understaffed service.
The Governments Response to the Maternity Crisis; Fine words without resources.
However, maternity services are in dire need of investment. Without it, we are concerned that an already overstretched NHS will not be able to implement this plan. This will be another missed opportunity to ensure compassionate, personalised and safe maternity care for everyone.
We therefore repeat our call for the Treasury to commit to funding the improvements needed, including through a fully funded long-term workforce plan.”
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health commented “What we need now is real investment from the government, to enable regular workforce planning at a local, regional and national level to ensure a sustainable, appropriately funded, multidisciplinary workforce that safely meets the needs of women and their babies.
In reality, while the delivery plan is a start, the task now turns to local implementation and coordination, but they cannot do this alone. It is disappointing that the review has not adopted our recommendation for a national neonatal safety champion, who could oversee the progress and adoption of all these recommendations. We will continue to make this call.“
Liverpool Women’s is a relatively small hospital though a large maternity unit, probaly the largest in the country. Relocating such a service would be very complex and expensive as well as unnecessary
The Nuffied Trust comments that “The financial problems presented by minimum staffing levels are exacerbated by the fixed costs of providing the physical infrastructure of maternity services, which have a relatively large footprint and are resource-hungry. The current reimbursement system, which is often based on payment-by-results, does not reflect the actual costs of providing the service, where, among other pressures, staff cover is required 24/7“
Problems when the core issues of staffing and underfunding are ignored.
Continuity of Carer. There is a pattern that the government will try all kinds of fashions and regulations to avoid the necessary investment in maternity. At one point i maternity care was planned on the basis that women would be giving birth at home or at tiny birthing centres, meanwhile, maternity units were being closed because of cuts or shutting temporarily.
More recently the Government threw all its weight behind introducing Continuity of Carer. This was also hailed as the answer to racism and discrimination in childbirth ( It isn’t!). Every hospital had to work in this way, being financially penalised when it was not implemented.
Continuity of Carer is a wonderful idea, when, and only when, we have a well-staffed midwifery service. Gill Walton from the RCM described it as “the clashing of truths“.
The concept of Continuity of Carer is that the pregnant woman sees one person through antenatal, delivery and post-natal services. Clearly, as midwives have to sleep, eat, look after their families, go on holiday, be off ill and study, such care is not possible from one person, so a team approach was used. Without adequately staffed teams, this cannot work.
The CoC teams still require the backup of specialist teams, so can only work when thereis good staffing.
It is great for a woman coming into Hospital or giving birth at home to have a familiar and trusted face come into the room and work with her during the delivery. Some midwives love to work this way. CofC cannot be and did not prove to be an answer to the chronic understaffing and underfunding crises.
Trying to deliver Continuity of Carer in a time of staffing crisis resulted in the break up of established specialist teams and patterns of care, and much unhappiness. Some midwives left the profession over the disruption this caused. This exacerbated the staffing crisis and the unhappiness in the profession. In 2022 the RCM welcomed the removal of targets for Continuity of Carer and Ockendon said it should stop until the staffing allows it.
Gynaecological waiting lists are amongst the worst in the county and are long at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. The basics for women are in short supply. Many women have had difficulty accessing HRT medication.
Women need a decent health services, including major gynaecological services, screening, and the recognition of different symptoms for women in common diseases. Access to control over our fertility is incredibly important. Our campaign is hearing of women finding it difficult to access contraception and smear tests. The GUM department at The Royal has the contract to supply contraception, sexual health (STI testing) and HIV services for Liverpool, Knowsley, Warrington, Halton, East Cheshire and HIV for Wirral. They have given the service the brand name Axess.
We have heard of women finding it hard to get appointments for all types of contraception including emergency contraception and especially coils. Cytology (smear tests) also have very limited appointments. GP practices seem to often no longer deliver these services. Handing these services over to high street pharmacists is no answer, especially as pharmacies are closing (except when people campaign)
Rowlands, the company involved in the attempted closure of the pharmacy in Lodge Lane is quoted in the Echo as saying:
“The community pharmacy network in England is in crisis as a result of real-term funding cuts of around £750m in the last few years. We’re told there will be further real-term funding cuts in the coming years. It is estimated up to 75% of pharmacies are in financial distress leading to closures. The government in England (unlike Scotland) is not prepared to invest in keeping them open.”
This is backed up here. However, pharmacies are private companies funded by the NHS. As a private company, its first purpose is to make a profit. It is another example of why we need a fully funded, fully staffed, properly planned public service providing our healthcare.
Midwives need a decent pay rise to keep up with inflation and to make up for the years when real pay value fell. Otherwise, the rate of midwives quitting will only increase. Midwives also need respect and the chance to practice their vital profession in dignity
The universities that train midwives are also facing staff issues as their staff leave in disgust at what is happening in the service.
This article was written to underline the need to preserve and enhance Liverpool Women’s Hospital. March with us on October 7th.
We demand that we keep Liverpool Women’s Hospital on-site and that it is funded to succeed.
Today across the world women are demanding equality and our rights. The bread symbolises our right to a good living and Roses our rights to arts and beauty.
This has been the demand since International Women’s day was founded. There are celebrations and demonstrations across the world. Liverpool Women are joining in.
Healthcare is essential to women’s rights. Demand world-class healthcare for women, girls and babies. Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Restore and repair the health service in the UK. We say we can’t have equality without good healthcare.
Celebrate the essential work of our mothers, sisters, friends and lovers. There are 15.6 million women workers in the UK. A new generation has entered the struggle.
Women are more than half the workforce of NHS, Education, Care, Retail, and the Civil Service. We also work at home in vital caring and child-raising roles, yet we often do not get paid enough to live well. Women still do not earn as much as men in wages or pensions. Women hold 60% of all jobs that pay below the real living wage.
We have strength in our unions. Women are 56.8 per cent of union members, despite being 49.8 per cent of total workers. We are demanding decent wages for all and equality. We are demanding democratic active unions.
Our public services and wages are under attack. One in four children is in food poverty. Austerity has aimed its hurt at women and children. Working women can fight back, for better pay and services. We demand full restoration of women’s pensions
A new generation has entered this struggle, linking to the long history of women across the world, and in Liverpool, fighting for their rights
We want equality and we want freedom from violence aimed at women and girls.
Our struggle to save Liverpool Women’s Hospital, the struggles to repair maternity services locally and nationally, to recruit and retain more midwives, to fight for safe birth, to restore and repair the national health service, to make health care open to all women, to fight poverty in pregnancy and early childhood all come together in our fight for Liverpool Women’s Hospital and the NHS.
Liverpool Women’s Hospital muststay, for all our mothers, sisters, daughters, friends and lovers and the thousands of babies born there.
Warning flags against the proposals to close, merge or disperse Liverpool Women’s Hospital. (This is a short read for those with little time or head space to read our more detailed posts which have all the links).
1. Women’s health and babies’ health matter more than money. This is a unique hospital for women and babies. Do not close it in the midst of this health crisis. Demand proper NHS funding and kick out the privatisers. Ten years of privatisation and underfunding have caused these problems and the government is hell-bent on pushing on with these policies. Restore and repair the whole NHS. Improve Liverpool women’s Hospital. Pay the staff well.
2 There is a health care crisis with 7 million people waiting for treatment and Gynaecological waiting lists are appalling. Women’s health is deteriorating.
3 Every baby matters and they all come out of awomb; bad care for mothers damages the next generation. Women living in poverty and under great stress see declines in their own health and that of their babies. Black mothers and babies suffer the most. We do not need to write reports on women’s healthcare. They are already written. Violence against women is real. Save our hospital.
4. There is a shortage of midwives and poor management of midwife numbers and work pressures at the national level. There is a shortage of obstetricians and gynaecologists and other staff. There has been poor workforce planning, and a system where doctors are very specialised, making dual symptom care harder. These are national problems.
5 We were told years ago we needed fewer Hospital beds. That reduction in hospital bed numbers has been disastrous. The closure of A and E departments and the closure of maternity units have gone badly.
6 There is no bridge, and there is no money for a new build hospital. There is no money for extra staff. Yet LWH management advocates the move based on this twin dream of a new building, and a bridge giving access to Intensive Care and doctors with other specialisms. To make that move without those extra resources would be dangerous. We would lose what we have now.
7. Liverpool Women’s is so close to the Royal that it is quicker to walk from Liverpool Women’s than to get a car out of parking and park it up when you get to the Royal. It is much closer to the Royal than either Broadgreen or Aintree
9. It is hard to merge hospitals. The staff at the Royal, Aintree and Broadgreen work amazingly hard and keep good caring relationships with patients. We thank them for all they do and supported them on their strike. (When you look down this street outside the Royal Liverpool Women’s is at the end of the road by where the trees are on the left)
10 The Royal, Aintree, Broadgreen merger has been difficult. The Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust is in special measures. It has been described as a “troubled trust” managing any hospital is tough in this system and with this government. The Royal Aintree and Broadgreen Trust cannot absorb the Liverpool Women’s Hospital safely. We fight also against the cuts likely to be imposed at Liverpool by Mr Flory ex-national finance chief sent in to sort out its finances
Please sign our petition here or at the street stalls
Our campaign to Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital has a petition with over 60 thousand signatures, more than 40 thousand on line https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-liverpool-women-s-hospital.We have more than 20,000 signatures on our paper petition. We presented a copy of this paper petition to the last ICB meeting. We are still collecting more signatures.
We have been campaigning for a fully funded, fully staffed Liverpool Women’s hospital on the Crown Street site, campaigning for maternity rights, and women’s and babies’ health for many years.
The Liverpool Women’s Hospital website tells us “Each year we deliver over 7,500 babies, carry out over 49,000 gynaecological inpatient and outpatient procedures, care for over 1,000 poorly & preterm newborns, perform around 1,000 IVF cycles and have over 4,000 genetic appointments taking place. We believe that this along with a strong dedication to research & innovation makes us the specialist health provider of choice in Europe for women, babies and families.“
Liverpool Women’s Hospital building on Crown Street was opened in 1995. It is a low-rise building on a garden site. A twenty-million-pound neonatal unit was recently added. Our fight to save and improve this hospital goes on.
There have been plans to move or close Liverpool Women’s hospital for several years. There was talk that there were too many hospitals in Liverpool and one had to go. This was s reported on the BBC panorama programme and quoted widely in the local press. We wrote about this in a previous post.
The Pandemic and the chaos around the building of the new Royal Hospital held up the plans for a few years. Then last year a company called Carnall Farrar were commissioned to write a report on the issues around Liverpool Women’s Hospital, referring back to the original plans. We wrote to Carnall Farrar asking to be included in their consultations but they wrote back declining to do so.
We intend to put out our case to Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital in detail in future blog posts but it is important that the background to the issue is clear and in the open.
The discussions about the future of the Liverpool Women’s Hospital take place against the background of the greatest crisis yet in healthcare in England. We have a severe shortage of staff, a shortage of hospital beds, declining health especially amongst those less well off, huge waiting lists, the lasting impact of the pandemic and an inadequate social care system. We urgently need to recruit and retain more midwives so women’s experience of giving birth begins to improve. The Royal College of Midwives last year said there were 2,600 midwife vacancies and that is against the present staffing level a level which we feel is itself inadequate.
Healthcare goes on in the NHS day after day, babies are born, many people get treatment. Seven million people though are on the waiting lists. Health is deteriorating partly from poverty, and the pandemic, but also from lack of appointments and procedures from the NHS. Pioneering work on endometriosis is provided at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. But the whole health service is in trouble. The NHS is like a huge ocean liner leaking and listing lacking essential maintenance and investment and the staff are jumping ship. Nurses are on the picket line not just for pay but because of the state of the service. Staff leave not because they hate the job but because they cannot do it properly. The NHS system is underfunded and some of the money we do have is wasted on the market system. Extra funding is much needed but it must not be diverted into the for-profit sector. The market system introduced in the last 20 years has caused severe damage. The NHS needs more funds but above all to revert to a fully public service model of health care. so the money goes to healthcare not to profit. The NHS can be fixed but not if it is also expected to make profit for healthcare corporations,
There is also a shortage of money to build new hospitals and repair existing ones. It has been made very clear that there is no money to rebuild Liverpool Women’s Hospital, it is not even on the mythical 40 Boris hospitals list.
The Health and Care Act 2022 set up 42 Integrated Care Boards to run health care in England. We objected to this model from the start, modelled as it is on the US Accountable Care System. The Act was passed and is now being implemented. Our local ICB is the Cheshire and Merseyside ICB
The Carnell Farrar report to the Cheshire and Merseyside ICB makes suggestions which recommend putting women’s services into a big acute hospital (and that means the Royal.) It does not discuss where the babies should go. We will go into much greater detail on this report in future posts.
The Carnall Farrar Report makes it clear why the report matters not just to Liverpool but to the whole of Cheshire and Merseyside. The government, we are told in the report, intends the ICB in Cheshire and Merseyside to cut £350 million!
Liverpool has the greatest extent of deprivation in England as measured by the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), with two in three people living in deprivation, and eight in every hundred people living 4th in the most deprived one percent of the country. With respect to income, Liverpool is the most deprived5thlocal authority, and the most deprived with respect to employment and living environment.
“Much of this morbidity and mortality is avoidable and despite significant improvement over the last 20 years, the rate of avoidable mortality in Liverpool has remained consistently 50% above the national rate.
This represents an additional 740 people dying every year in Liverpool with the leading causes of these deaths being cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease.” Our emphasis
This background to the discussions around Liverpool Women’s Hospital is important. We are not discussing how best to spend an abundance of funding. We have had a decade of underfunding, privatisation, understaffing, and problems with staff retention and pay. Nationally we have a record of declining health for women. The government itself issued a report on this. Maternal deaths nationally are also a problem, as are the deaths of babies at birth. Women’s experience of giving birth is deteriorating; the experience of “being with women” giving birth is also getting worse for midwives. Moving the hospital solves none of this.
Austerity policies helped cause this decline in women’s health. These problems happened during major reorganisations of the NHS, all focussing on bringing in a market-based model, with many different kinds of privatisation.
The various kinds of privatisation are:
Paying financial consultants and companies like Carnall Farrar whose report cost £130,000, (enough to pay for a midwife for at least two years)
The HSSF arrangements are where certain companies are listed to be given NHS contracts.
The agency staff companies
Giving our data to the likes of data giant Palantir
The use of the US model, the “Integrated Care System” is designed to restrict treatment and make money for the big health corporations. This we believe was at the heart of the Health and Care Act 2022
Giving money to private hospitals to do NHS operations, and sometimes giving them money even if they did not do operations for the NHS
Giving money to Spec Savers to provide eye checks and hearing checks.
Developing waiting lists that create a market for private medicine.
We need a public service model, not a market-based one. The US market-based model of health care has poor health outcomes, especially for working-classpeople and most especially for women. Thirty million people in the United States have no healthcare cover. The US system does however make a ton of profit for their big health corporations many of whom are now involved in the NHS. Prime Minister Sunak recently held talks with these companies and such companies are embedded into NHS planning. Simon Stevens who used to head up the NHS previously worked for the United Health Group. Wikipeadia says “UnitedHealth Group is the world’s seventh largest company by revenue and the largest healthcare company by revenue, and the largest insurance company by net premiums”
We need that money currently diverted to the private sector resources back into a fully funded NHS. We need to plug that drain.
The Maternity Crisis This does not get due consideration in the report
Nationally and locally the NHS needs many more midwives and midwives’ conditions of work need to improve Please see our other blog posts on this. We have report after report saying maternity must improve, we have reports saying gynaecology has the longest waiting lists, and reports about how women’s life expectancy and life expectancy in good health are deteriorating, especially for poorer and for black women. This is national, not just local. Having a stand-alone hospital has not caused these chronic problems.
Specialist HospitalsLiverpool has several specialist hospitals. The specialist organisations within the scope of this review were:
• Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
• Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust
• Liverpool Heart and Chest NHS Foundation Trust
• The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust
Specialist hospitals are funded directly from the national centre unlike the acute general hospitals and take their patients from a wide area. Liverpool Women’s Hospital has about one-third of its funding as a specialist hospital as it takes referrals from a wide area, as does Alder Hey Hospital. The specialist hospitals are not yet within the control of the integrated care board and might not be for another year.
What does Carnell Farrar say about Liverpool Women’s Hospital?
In their statement to stakeholders, Carnall Farrar says their priorities are.
1) Solving the clinical sustainability challenges affecting women’s health in Liverpool.
2) Improving outcomes and access to emergency care, making optimal use of existing co-adjacencies at the Aintree, Broadgreen and Royal Liverpool Hospital sites.
3) Significant opportunities to achieve economies of scale in corporate services.
Why is Liverpool Women’s a priority given all the other issues facing the NHS? We can see no grounds to believe that closing moving or dispersing Liverpool Women’s Hospital would be an improvement for women’s health. To do so in this climate of cuts shortages waiting lists and staff shortages would make things much worse.
The Liverpool Women’s Hospital does need some further improvements (as do other hospitals) including a better blood bank. It needs some more diagnostics systems, it needs more staff and close cooperation with other hospitals, as do the other specialist hospitals.
We will write further about the ongoing fight to save Liverpool Women’s Hospital and the NHS and NHS staff pay in other posts
Our campaign will continue to fight for the NHS, for women’s health and for each and every baby. Please support us in this.
Speak out, speak up, and fight to restore our NHS. A mass campaign, like that to set up the NHS, like that of the suffragettes, can and will win back our NHS, fully funded. We need your involvement. If not now when?
We are putting out a call for further active support from the people and their organisations in Cheshire and Merseyside. The NHS is held together by the outstanding work of the healthcare workers, despite the Governments sabotage. We all need the NHS and we can see how it is being damaged by this government and their policies. Time to call Enough Is Enough. Restore and Repair the NHS. Help us raise the level of our campaign.
Our hospitals, our ambulances, our GP services, our maternity care, our mental health services, and our social services are all failing to provide the level of care we deserve, that we as an “advanced” and wealthy economy should expect.
This campaign defends Liverpool Women’s Hospital, the largest maternity hospital, and the only hospital dedicated to women’s health. We are involved in defending the healthcare system nationally but particularly locally in Cheshire and Merseyside. The two issues are interlinked.
The people who work in the NHS are its greatest asset and are key to delivering high-quality care. This has been evident throughout the Covid-19 pandemic with staff demonstrating remarkable resilience and commitment. However, a prolonged funding squeeze between 2008 and 2018 combined with years of poor workforce planning, weak policy and fragmented responsibilities mean that staff shortages have become endemic.
We also see lying, as when Boris Johnson promised more hospitals, and when in 2015 the Secretary of State for Health Simon Stevens promised us 6000 more GPs but we have been left with fewer than in 2015. We were promised Continuity of Carer in the maternity services without sufficient midwives to deliver it.
Donna Ockendon who conducted the review of baby deaths in Shropshire and is now working on the Nottingham Enquiry wrote“the review team has also identified 15 areas as IEAs that should be considered by all trusts in England providing maternity services. Some of these include:
the need for significant investment in the maternity workforce and multi-professional training
strengthened accountability for improvements in care among senior maternity staff, with timely implementation of changes in practice and improved investigations involving families“
The damage to the whole NHS is shown in cost-cutting and ideological opposition to the core NHS principles of a public national and comprehensive health service for need, (not profit) providing timely care, free at the point of need. This government prefers to run down the NHS and to divert funds to big corporations. The NHS is not the only victim of the policy of Austerity but it is a major victim. The people of the UK have suffered grievously with 300,000 dead, more than in many wars
The NHS is being held together by the outstanding work of NHS staff. Our nurses, midwives, doctors, allied medical professionals, porters, and site staff are underpaid and overworked. They have worked through the pandemic and acute shortages. Yet despite this they work, continuing to provide care and support for those using the NHS. Day after day we hear more demoralising stories. We the public must step up and challenge the Government over this. The staff cannot carry this burden alone
It does not have to be like this, the UK is wealthy, and even if it was poor the NHS model is far more cost-effective than the private model. This situation has been created by political decisions. Big companies are taking profit from the NHS. The administration of the NHS nationally and locally is deformed towards profit and towards the market.
The National Health Service was split into 42 areas by last year’s Health and Care Act, a profiteer’s charter. Campaigners nationally and here in Cheshire and Merseyside fought long and hard, but Boris Johnson’s government pushed it through
We continue to campaign, bringing together the different campaigning organisations in Cheshire and Merseyside. We are always looking for more organisations and individuals to join the struggle to restore and rebuild the NHS. Please do get in touch
The core problems in Cheshire and Merseyside are,
Waiting lists and waiting times, denial of care and having no choice but to pay for some treatments (like dentistry, but often for surgeries such as hips) and treatment provided by private companies with limited quality control)
Staff welfare, including pay, working conditions, pensions, unfilled vacancies, and frustration at not being able to provide for the need they see every day.
Funding, with “Cost Improvement Programmes expected at this time of increased need and high inflation The new ICB boards carried over all the financial problems of the previous system with additional admin costs.
Reorganisations designed to save money or reorganisations not properly planned or cost.
The persistence of the internal market,
The state of repair of hospitals
All of these are hitting patients through waiting lists, mix-ups and denial of care
Nurses, midwives and other health workers are balloting for strike action. They have our total support. They should never need to strike The responsibility lies with the Government. We speak to people regularly about the NHS and overwhelmingly, the people of our area want staff well paid and with sufficient staff to prevent overwork and burnout.
There are key crisis points now in Cheshire and Merseyside Health Service (formerly known as the NHS). These are a breakdown of services for patients, the need to organise public support for staff, Finances, Maternity, Hospital capacity including beds, staff and buildings, GP practices and primary care. Mental Health is utterly inadequate. Discharge from hospitals is difficult because of disarray in the largely privatised social care system.
We also see the introduction of “Virtual” wards to allow patients to be treated at home But this is happening while we have GPs already under pressure, primary care under pressure and ambulances unable to respond in due time. This will put pressure on families to care, for the lucky ones who have families available. And who will pay to heat these “virtual wards”. Sick people need constant warmth.
and Covid There is also an attempt to build a private “GP” surgery on the roundabout by the entrance to Clatterbridge Hospital. ( What they offer is not GP services which would include being a family and community specialist and responsible for your primary care; these companies cannot offer that)
Covid is still a problem with increasing numbers of people in hospital and increasing the severity of other illnesses yet our ICB board meets without taking basic Covid precautions, whilst its agenda discusses these issues
Our health care system needs you! Our organisations include Trades Councils across the area, Unite Community Cheshire, Defend our NHS, Socialist Health Association, Prescott SOS NHS, Keep our NHS Public Merseyside and Keep our NHS Public Cheshire, Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital, Save Ormskirk and Southport Hospitals and more. Donations will go to the Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital Account
Please think of how you can help.
Could you put a poster up?
Could you leaflet your street?
Could you write to your MP and councillors?
Could you get your union branch to help financially? Could they affiliate with our campaign?
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 thelongstanding issue and position of Liverpool Women’s Hospital NHS Trust, whichhas 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 builtupon”.
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.
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
Protest targets private sector roles in NHS plans Health campaigners will target private company involvement in local NHS plans and threats to emergency care at the first meeting of the Cheshire & Merseyside Integrated Care Board (ICB) in Liverpool this Friday. The ICB will manage £4.8bn of NHS finances for the entire region, with realterm cuts. “We are outraged that a company director will sit on the ICB and US-owned corporations could be involved in reviewing Liverpool hospitals,” says Keep Our NHS Public Merseyside. “The new Health and Care Act fails to ensure emergency care for everyone present in our area. Patients and NHS staff, Councillors and MPs should demand this is guaranteed in the ICB Constitution.” Warrington GP Dr Raj Kumar is designated as one of two Primary Care directors for the ICB. Dr Kumar is also a Director of Kleyn Imaging Limited, providing ultrasound, MRI, and digital radiology as the “imaging arm” of Kleyn Healthcare Limited. Dr Kumar resigned as a director of Kleyn Healthcare on 27 June, but retains a controlling interest in Sycamore Corporation Limited which holds over 75% of shares in Kleyn Healthcare. Kleyn’s website proclaims “Welcome to a world of innovation, enterprise and transformational leadership in healthcare.” A secretive review of Liverpool hospitals is being commissioned through the Health Systems Support Framework. The cost is “commercially confidential”, and the public cannot view the specifications. The Framework accredits over 200 companies including US transnational corporations and their subsidiaries. Operose, owned by $111bn-a-year Centene Corporation, featured in a recent BBC Panorama investigation of GP surgeries using “Physician Associates” without proper supervision by fully trained GPs. Palantir, founded by Trump supporter Peter Thiel, hopes to be contracted for a system to underpin all NHS data. “Operose, Palantir and other Framework firms should have no say in reviewing Liverpool hospitals, and the public must be able to see the terms and cost,” says Keep Our NHS Public Merseyside. Notes to Editors
Again we are revisiting the work we did in the earlier years of the proposals for the future of the Liverpool Women’s Hospital. This was written in response to Future Generations publications. Since this was written, the disaster of the PFI model for building hospitals is clear. Liverpool still waits for the Carillion Hospital Further details of PFI can be found here
LCCG ( Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group) recognises that significant capital is required to re-locate LWH to the site of the new Royal Hospital. Of the various potential funding options, they see a Public-Private Partnership( PPP) as the most viable option.
Following the collapse of Carillion, Philip Hammond, in the 2018 Budget pledged not to sign any new Private Finance Initiative contracts (PFI).
“In financing public infrastructure I remain committed to the use of PPPs. We will establish a centre of excellence to actively manage these contracts in the taxpayers interest starting with the health sector.”
The PFI was a way of creating PPPs where private firms are contracted to complete and manage public projects. It is widely believed to be used by governments simply to place a great deal of debt “off-balance sheet”. In other words another expensive, disastrous financing model.
There has been very little said about what would become of the existing building at the Crown Street site. The PCBC (page 312) states that it is “likely to remain a site for NHS services”.
The Naylor Review( 2017) examines how the NHS in England can raise cash from its premises. Its findings were in line with the requirements set out in the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP)s which were introduced in December 2015 to fast forward NHS England’s Five Year Forward View (5YFV). The focus from STPs has evolved from Accountable Care Systems(ACS) to Accountable Care Organisations (ACO)s to Integrated Care Providers (ICP)s. ( Now called ICS) An ICP brings together a number of providers to take responsibility for the cost of care for a defined population within an agreed budget. This will force the NHS into an alliance with social care which is private and means-tested.
Two things underpin the thinking behind the review:
a) the need to free up public land and build much-needed housing to solve the housing crisis
b) the new models of care described in the 5YFV have different infrastructure requirements so surplus land can be disposed of and the profits used as an incentive for Trusts to meet targets imposed by STPs.
It appears that dispersing public assets into private hands is the objective behind these plans and not the long-term benefit to the public service. Private developers own between them enough land to build 600,000 new homes, so there is no critical need to release any public sector land. However, the release of public sector land would increase profitability for the private sector, especially if the sites are in prime locations. Liverpool Women’s Hospital (LWH) is situated adjacent to the Georgian Quarter of Liverpool, one of the most sought-after residential areas in the city. The building is owned outright by the Trust and the freehold is owned by the city Council.
Naylor emphasises the contribution of sales of existing estates and the introduction of private finance to create new builds as key to changing the estate to meet “the new models of care” set out in the 5YFV.
NHS Commissioners and regulators have considerable authority to insist premises be fit for purpose. These powers can be used to force the pace of investment in or exit from inadequate premises eg.by reducing payments for properties not meeting future service strategy to encourage moves. Section 7.4 of the review recommends
(Recommendation 10) “STP estates plans and their delivery should be assessed against targets informed by benchmarks set against the review. STPs and their providers which fail to develop sufficiently stretching plans should not be granted access to capital funding, either through grants, loans or private finance until they have agreed plans to improve performance against benchmarks.”
The guidance for STPs says transformation funding which is necessary to deliver key service changes and new models of care will “only be available to systems whose operational plans meet their required control total and performance trajectories.”
Relocation of LWH to the site of the new Royal hospital would force another expense onto taxpayers in the form of a PPP. It would also pave the way for the sale of the present hospital and land to property developers or to private companies eager to get their hands on a modern, functioning hospital. If relocation were to take place and the existing building used for NHS services the likelihood is that those services would be tendered out and fall into the hands of the private sector. This should never be allowed to happen.
Land sales and commercial rents being forced onto Foundation Trusts and Gps are not a way of securing the NHS’ future. The Naylor Review recommended that HM Treasury should provide additional funding to incentivise land disposals through a “2 for 1” offer in which public funds match disposal receipts. A bribe to encourage the sell off of NHS properties and should the bribe not succeed
there will be a penalty imposed for holding on to assets. The reality of the Naylor Review is another move to privatise public assets. Property developers stand to make a profit from land acquired on the cheap.
By deeming LWH “not fit for purpose” and by presenting a clinical case for change LCCG has put LWH and the land on which it stands in danger of being developed for housing, none of which will be “affordable housing” due to the soaring house prices in the area.
The selling of land just to raise money will not meet the demands of the Naylor Review, only changes of uses of existing services will do. The authority to change the use of an existing building lies with the City Council Planning Office. It would be timely to remind them of the significant investment of the NHS in LWH as a deliberate attempt of the then Dean of Liverpool to invest in the Liverpool 8 area through his Project Rosemary following the Toxteth Riots. The LWH is a much loved hospital, a specialist hospital dedicated to the care of the women and babies of Liverpool and surrounding areas and should remain so.