A group of determined mums from Lanarkshire are continuing their fight to save the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital Wishaw

​A group of four mums are vowing to fight on against the downgrading of their local Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital Wishaw (UHW).

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The campaigning ladies were invited to a Labour event where they met Jean Johansson.The campaigning ladies were invited to a Labour event where they met Jean Johansson.
The campaigning ladies were invited to a Labour event where they met Jean Johansson.

​The four say that the scoring process used to determine who stayed open and who were to close is flawed, and cannot be used as substantive evidence of a fair and transparent system.

The Scottish Government's Best Start Programme downgrades Scotland’s neonatal units from six to three super units in Glasgow, Edinburgh & Aberdeen.

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The new model of neonatal intensive care was recommended by The Best Start Report and is said to be based on evidence that care for babies at highest risk is safest in units which can treat a high volume of patients. Care for babies born at less than 27 weeks, lighter than 800 grams or who need complex life support, will be provided by Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) at Aberdeen Maternity Unit, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Neonatal units in Ninewells in Dundee, Princess Royal Maternity in Glasgow, University Hospital Wishaw, Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy and Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock will continue as local neonatal units to provide standard neonatal care for their populations.

Wishaw’s NICU, which was last year awarded the best in the United Kingdom is a disastrous decision which will have devastating consequences for many especially in Lanarkshire.

Lynne Mcritchie who started the campaign, Tammy Johnstone-Little, Monica Sheen and Angela Tierny have rallied outside parliament, and celebrated World Prematurity Day with a stand together event outside University Hospital Wishaw.

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The campaigners say that there are so many inconsistencies in the scoring procedure that affects UHW, that it makes a complete mockery of the whole process.

They questioned how it was possible that the data set used could be interpreted by some scorers as there being no service to provide paediatric radiology services and by others as having the service at UHW?

They raised further queries on why some scorers believed that no paediatric surgery was performed at all, and then by others who scored the hospital as performing some some surgery.

The inconsistencies highlighted are by no means exclusive, there are many others and the range of scoring between each person who was, apparently, working from the same data far exceeds the range that would be expected.

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A small range of disparity in scoring would be expected based on individual interpretation of the data provided, likely linked to background/experience of the scorer. However the range of scores raises significant concerns with the process said the group.

The four intrepid campaigners have set up an online group on Facebook named Wishaw Neonatal Warriors which has over 1,100 members and in addition, have also set up a live petition which has now gathered more than 20,000 signatures.

Tammy commented: “The values and behaviours expected of the Perinatal Sub Group tasked with the development of the new model for delivery of Neonatal Care within Scotland made multiple references throughout to the need to keep the process confidential from the public.

"This supports the concerns around the significant lack of transparency from the Scottish Government around this process and ultimate decision for a major national healthcare change.

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She continued: “This change will have a profound and lasting impact on Neonatal Healthcare Services for the population served by NHS Lanarkshire. Despite this there was no representation in the Options Appraisal Process from Neonatal services within NHS Lanarkshire.

“There was no involvement of users of the service or their representatives. No consultation with parent/family groups, political representatives, members of the health board or inclusion of the staff/experts within Wishaw Neonatal Unit.

“The change was announced during a parliamentary recess and in the summer holidays which limited its exposure to robust public and parliamentary feedback or discussion.

A trialling of the new system was carried out by NHS Fife who, after completion, expressed concerns about decreased confidence and de-skilling among nursing and medical staff in situations where they may have to provide the initial care for an extreme pre-term baby, prior to transfer to one of only three specialised neonatal intensive care units across the country.”

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One of these concerns relates to the distance that a Lanarkshire mum would have to travel to reach Aberdeen if the other two units were already full.

The Facebook page for Wishaw Neonatal Warriors can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1297120964277154/ For those interested in supporting the campaign, the petition can be found at: https://www.change.org/p/proposal-to-downgrade-neo-natal-care-at-university-hospital-wishaw

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