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Deadlock ‘used as cover’ for midwifery cuts

A CASTLEDERG GP has accused the Western Trust of using the current political uncertainty to impose cuts on services.

Dr Brendan O’Hare has said midwifery services in rural areas of West Tyrone have been reduced, with weekend staff also reduced at the new Omagh Hospital.

Dr O’Hare, who chairs the Western Local Medical Committee said GPs in Castlederg, Drumquin and Trillick had been left “deeply upset” by the decision to centralise certain community midwifery services in Omagh without consultation.

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“The amount of support that’s going to be offered to women in rural areas after they deliver is being drastically cut,” he claimed.

“There will be no more what is called booking visits in Castlederg, Drumquin or Trillick. The midwives will not do them here, everybody will have to go to Omagh.”

He said despite what some midwives had been told by Trust managers, no consultation had taken place.

“They’ve been told by their managers that there has been consultation and GPs have agreed.”

“That’s absolutely untrue, there has been no consultation whatsoever.

“It’s a very shoddy way to do business. GPs in those areas are deeply upset.”

Dr O’Hare said the reduced services would impact socially deprived families and those with small children.

“Things have been said like ‘they can go to Asda for their shopping, why can’t they go here’, but lots of people don’t.

“That sort of language by individual managers is completely unacceptable.”

Dr O’Hare branded the move as an opportunistic cost-saving exercise.

“Quality of care has just been forgotten about, this in our view is just a money-saving exercise.

“The fact that there has been no consultation, despite what they may say, is appalling.

“The views of the community doesn’t seem to matter in all of this.”

Dr O’Hare added, “It seems to have been seen as a window of opportunity to squeeze these things through without any sort of process.”

“It’s unfortunate that we don’t have politicians at the minute who will actually look at this, do their job and scrutinise what is going on.”

When contacted, a spokesperson for the Western Trust responded to the claims, by saying, “New expectant mothers’ first booking appointments with the community midwife in GP practices have recently been offered… at the new Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex.

“All other review appointments will be carried out at their local GP facilities such as Drumquin, Castlederg and Trillick.”

The spokesperson added, “Midwifery hours and number of midwives working on duty at weekends is dependent on service demands.”

The statement concluded, “The regional ‘Getting ready for baby’ programme for first time mums and all their antenatal care will be provided within the Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex.”

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