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Maternity campaigners win latest stage in their battle

by Mary Graham

Maidstone Hospital
Maidstone Hospital

The health secretary is set to be called in to review a plan to remove full maternity services from Maidstone Hospital.

Kent County Council is expected to refer the plan to Andy Burnham on Friday because of the huge public opposition it has attracted.

Opponents of the changes to maternity services are being urged to go to County Hall on Friday in a final demonstration against the plan.

Hospital bosses want to concentrate a full maternity unit at the new Pembury Hospital when it opens next year. Maidstone will have a birthing unit, staffed by midwives.

Mothers who suffer complications at Maidstone would have to be transferred by ambulance to a full maternity unit.

Campaigners led by MASH (Maidstone Action for Services in Hospital) say women could face lengthy delays if they need to be transferred between Maidstone and Pembury because the roads are not good enough.

The hospital trust insists the move is safe.

Mr Burnham could order an independent review of the plans to ensure they provide the best care for pregnant women in the Maidstone area.

Similar independent reviews of plans to merge maternity services at hospitals elsewhere in the south-east have led to the plans being scrapped.

Health campaigner Peter Carroll, the Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate for Maidstone and the Weald, said: "It is entirely right this matter should go to the secretary of state for a review. This is the best chance we have of stopping this decision."

People who want to see maternity services stay in Maidstone are being urged to attend the meeting on Friday. It takes place at Sessions House, at 9.30am.

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