The same priority

I WRITE in response to the letter headline Situation is looking bad (Mail, August 4) from the long-serving paramedic who chose to withhold his name and address.

This individual presented a long tirade about the closure of the accident and emergency department at the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the ensuing carnage that they envisage.

They then go on to comment about the maternity services now on offer in Hartlepool and suggest that the midwifery-led birthing centre is anything but “excellent”, stating that they and their paramedic colleagues are sick and tired of constantly picking women up from the birthing centre and taking them to the University Hospital of North Tees.

This person is apparently an expert in diagnosing women in protracted labour, thereby insinuating that we, the midwives, do not know our job and are booking women into our unit inappropriately.

Perhaps, as this paramedic seems to think that he or she knows better than other health professionals, they would like to explain to the women and families in Hartlepool, east Durham, Stockton and outlying areas exactly why they should not book into the birthing centre.

Women are screened and assessed against strict criteria before being allowed to come to the unit but, like everything in life, normality cannot be guaranteed.

However we, the accountable health professionals, being highly trained and skilled, will at the first sign of any problems quite rightly arrange the woman’s safe transfer to our obstetric unit for appropriate and ongoing care.

We have an excellent safety record.

Our transfer rate is either at or below the national transfer rate and we constantly audit our transfers, none of which have been inappropriate, untimely or unsafe.

As a measure of good practice, we recently had a peer review where health professionals from Warwickshire assessed the unit and found all of our practices and protocols to be safe and our facilities one of the best they have seen, an opinion more worthy of comment surely?

Though I have not been intimately involved with the urgent and emergency care changes, I know that the trust has been working closely with the North East Ambulance Trust on the protocols to ensure that any patient with a medical emergency calling 999 themselves is taken to the appropriate expert team after assessment by the paramedics.

All that we ask of this paramedic and their colleagues is that they continue to provide the excellent and safe service that we have known to date.

Surely we have the same priority anyway, namely the very best care for our service-users, and this cannot be well served by petty, anonymous sniping at fellow professionals.

Dennise Butcher,


Hartlepool Birthing Centre.