Cuts being planned for the NHS could lead to the emergence of “baby factories”, the disappearance of some hospitals from cities and a general worsening of healthcare in the UK, the Royal College of Midwives trade union has said.
The nursing body said many accident and emergency units, children’s departments and maternity services will be shut down and “centralised”, although the medical establishment insists that fewer centres of care will produce better treatment.
The cuts are likely to mean more patients will have to travel further distances to receive their care, the RCM said.
Union general secretary Cathy Warwick said the RCM does not oppose any reconfiguration of health services in principle, but she is worried that mega-centres of maternity care will end up being created in which 10,000 babies are born each year.
“The danger is that we’ll get what I call baby factories: large and impersonal places where high numbers of women walk through the front door of a place that’s not welcoming and not friendly because it’s just too big. The size detracts from the ability to give individualised, personalised care,” she said.
“Women will be less satisfied, midwives will not want to work there, and you’ll get a vicious circle and lower quality of care in those units.”
“Women find larger maternity units impersonal and alienating, and they can get lost in the shuffle. Heads of midwifery who are in charge of very large services are starting to find it harder to recruit midwives because [many prefer to work in] smaller maternity units.”