A huge ‘thank you’ to all the Mums (and Dads!) who’ve been emailing and flooding my Facebook page with comments about why so many families go to Bristol when they’re expecting a baby, rather than using our local maternity services instead.
Everyone always assumed it was because parents, understandably, didn’t want to take any risks. Weston isn’t set up to deal with complex births and so, the theory went, most parents would naturally prefer to be within touching distance of somewhere they can have a caesarean (or whatever) if anything goes wrong. And that meant going to Bristol.
But it was only a theory, so I asked local families for evidence to either back it up or knock it down. Did they choose Weston or Bristol to have their baby and, whichever one they used, why?
The response was brilliant – thank you again – and now we’ve got lots of case studies and stories to send as evidence to our local health chiefs as they ponder the right services for Weston’s expectant families.
And the evidence shows…. (the judges scores are in; drumroll please…..) that the theory is bang on. We’ve got a chicken and egg problem (sorry about the pun, but it’s right even so): because there aren’t services for minor complications, women prefer to go to Bristol, and because that leaves so few of their sisters having babies in Weston, it’s hard to justify the staff and equipment to deal with complicated cases.
All the evidence will be going to our local health chiefs, who’ve got to find the right answer to this problem. Why are both the existing centres for complex births just a few miles apart from each other in Bristol? Is that really the best way to give taxpayers the most healthcare ‘bang for their buck’, or just an accident of history? And is it fair to expect pregnant mums to travel so much further to give birth if they live in North Somerset rather than north Bristol or South Gloucestershire? I don’t envy them the problem but, whatever the right answer turns out to be, at least now they’ll have the evidence to prove it!