Campaigners claim Honiton maternity unit “victory”

But hopes could still be destroyed

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Honiton Hospital’s valued overnight maternity service have claimed a “major victory”, but could still see their hopes destroyed.

Moves by NHS Devon to cut overnight stays for new mums at the unit were panned by Devon County Council’s (DCC) adult health overview and scrutiny committee when it met on Thursday.

A final decision on whether to chop the service, however, still lies with the health chiefs wielding the axe.

Overview and scrutiny committee chairman, Councillor Richard Westlake, emphasised NHS Devon will make the crunch ruling on the issue, not the council.

“We insist on retention of overnight stays at community maternity units for women who wish it, and the transfer back from the Royal Devon and Exeter as appropriate,” said a DCC spokesperson after the meeting.

Campaigner Claire Wright was among many who watched the debate. She hailed its outcome “fabulous news.”

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“They recognised Honiton as the gold standard, and said not only should it be retained and preserved, but replicated,” said Mrs Wright.

“We haven’t won the war, but a major hurdle has been overcome.

“The committee was unanimous bar one in rejecting the loss of overnight stays in Honiton.”

Committee members recommended the rejection of proposed changes to the maternity care model, including a decrease in the length of stay, and same day discharge in birthing units including Honiton’s.

The committee asked NHS Devon to review maternity services across the county and was “greatly concerned” by changes in maternity services imposed in February this year.

Rebecca Harriott, deputy chief executive of NHS Devon, said: “Our role is to balance the wishes of the campaigners for mums having a normal birth to rest in hospital, with our duty to provide safe, quality maternity services for all.

“The views of parents, DCC scrutiny committee members and other important stakeholders will be taken fully into account before proposals are submitted to the board for consideration on October 27.”