THE top boss who warned Wirral midwives they were being rude to patients in a leaked letter has spoken of her regret.
Linda Birch, head of midwifery at Arrowe Park’s maternity unit, said her intention with the letter issued to all maternity staff, but also leaked to the Wirral News and its sister paper, the ECHO, was to shine a spotlight on areas in which they could do better.
As a result she said she deeply regretted if her concerns had caused any loss of confidence in the service.
Ms Birch said: “My intention with the letter was to shine a strong light on and learn from areas where we have had lapses or are not performing at 100% so that we can ensure we provide the best possible care and experience for every patient every time, but I accept that ultimately this may not have been the best way of achieving this.
“I am passionate about ensuring that we maintain the very high standards we set ourselves but deeply regret if it has resulted in any loss of confidence.”
The letter issued late last month said that Ms Birch was “very concerned” about “some worrying trends” in the care they give maternity patients.
It outlines, using a graph, month-on-month bookings and remarks that a trend starts in January 2011 with just over 300 bookings per month (3,600 a year) and ends at 245 bookings per month in October (less than 3,000).
Ms Birch then gives a stark warning that: “At less than 3,000 births, our unit is not financially viable.”
She goes on to say: “We know that the overall birth rate is up locally, regionally and nationally. However, we are losing patients to other providers because we are rude to them, we are not giving them what they need, we are not providing good care for them and they are going away unhappy.”
She said some staff in the unit were working “really hard to provide exceptional care” but she also cited examples of staff not record-keeping adequately.
There was also a “safeguarding” case where a mum was sent home with her baby without home checks being carried out and criticism from patients over not being helped with breastfeeding.
The Trust which runs the unit today said despite the statistics quoted by Ms Birch they “can unequivocally confirm that the maternity unit in Wirral Women and Children’s Hospital is not in any danger of closing”.
It adds: “The number of births at the hospital over the last five years and the forecast for 2012/13 is in the region of 3,500 per year.”
With regard to the safeguarding issue, the Trust said its safeguarding practice is considered one of the best in the country and has been awarded.