Councillor Chris Maines, Leader of the Lewisham Lib Dem Council Group, has expressed his concerns about plans to downsize University Lewisham Hospital’s maternity department following the publication of figures, which suggest that South London Hospitals’ maternity departments are already struggling to keep pace with demand.
According to information released to Cllr Chris Maines in a Freedom of Information request, Kings’ College Hospital’s maternity unit was closed to admissions on seven occasions from November 2011 until November 2012. Cllr Chris Maines has also revealed that University Hospital Lewisham was closed three times in the same time period.
5,242 mothers gave birth at Kings College Hospital between December 2011 and December 2012 and there were 4,419 births at Lewisham Hospital between December 2011 and February 2013.
ONS figures show that there were 4,896 births in the London Borough of Lewisham in 2011
Commenting on the findings, Cllr Chris Maines said:
“To propose downsizing Lewisham’s maternity services at a time when they are already overstretched is utter madness. These figures show that our local hospital services are already struggling to keep pace with demand and with Lewisham’s high birth rate, I have real concerns about capacity.
“The prospect that expectant mothers may be forced to travel even further afield at a particularly fraught time in their lives is especially worrying.
“I hope that these figures will give the Secretary of State pause for thought and that he will reconsider these plans”.