Oswestry Maternity Unit closed for the foreseeable future

David Walker in West Felton

SaTH announced on the 19th of June that the Oswestry Maternity Unit along with the Bridgnorth and Ludlow units were going to remain closed for the foreseeable future. Previously SaTH were seeking people’s views on the temporary suspensions, and whether rotating 4 week suspensions of inpatient services is a ‘Good’ solution to the staff shortages problem. Now they will remain closed until the conclusion of consultations about their future, possibly indefinitely.

Residents, parents and politicians of all colours continue to express outrage at the ongoing Maternity Unit saga. After prolonged closures due to staff shortages at Telford – where expectant and recovering mothers were expected to use Telford or Wrexham units instead – we are now into a new set of extended closures. Many us have said that these closures are designed to run the service down to the point that they can justify permanent closures. This is a tactic that has been used before with Schools, Police, Fire and Ambulance stations to close facilities by stealth.

Repeated suspensions aren’t good for parent’s peace of mind at critical times of pre and post-natal care. Neither are temporary closures on an extended basis. Parents rightly expect to plan ahead and this mess can’t continue. Rural MLUs like Oswestry Maternity Unit should be open 24/7.

It would seem quite obvious that if you put parents off using a service by creating uncertainty, then they will stop using it. Using those reduced numbers to justify a closure is dishonest and disingenuous.

Campaigners have hit out at misleading figures that have been used to justify the closures.

I volunteered as a Marshall for the march from The Bailey Head to Oswestry Maternity Unit last year.
I volunteered as a Marshall for the march from The Bailey Head to Oswestry Maternity Unit last year.

SaTH press release

Temporary suspension of services at Bridgnorth, Oswestry and Ludlow MLUs to continue

19 June 2018

Inpatient services, including births, at Bridgnorth, Oswestry and Ludlow Midwife Led Units (MLUs) are to remain temporarily suspended in order to safely staff the units where most of our mothers are giving birth, as a period of focused engagement with service users begins.

The current suspension of births at the three MLUs will continue until the outcome of a period of engagement is known. This is to ensure the safe care of mums using Shropshire’s maternity services.

The suspension of inpatient services (births and postnatal care) will continue from 8am tomorrow (Wednesday 20 June). All three units will remain open between 8am and 8pm for antenatal and postnatal services.

Women booked to give birth at Bridgnorth, Oswestry and Ludlow MLUs who go into labour during this time will be offered a birth at either Shrewsbury or Wrekin MLU or the Consultant Led Unit at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford; or they may choose the option of a home birth. If any women due to give birth at Bridgnorth, Oswestry or Ludlow MLU require support during this time they will be able to access a Midwife. All women potentially affected by the suspensions are being contacted.

Sarah Jamieson, Head of Midwifery at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs the MLUs, said: “The circumstances which led to our decision to suspend some services from the 20 May remain unchanged. Unfortunately the issues which have been affecting our maternity service continue. With over 98% of our women giving birth away from our rural MLUs, we are having to deploy our midwives where our mothers are choosing, or are being assessed as needing, to be and ensure that our Consultant Led Unit and our larger Midwife Led Units are safely staffed.

“We are planning a period of focused engagement with our service users, during which time we will be seeking their views and feeding these back to the Trust Board. The time period for the engagement and details regarding how to get involved will be released shortly.

“I must again reiterate that decisions over staffing are made purely on the basis of safety. The safety of women and babies using our maternity services has been, and always will be, our number one priority.

“I would like to apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.”

Celebrating Pride

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

One of my own proudest political moments as a Liberal Democrat was moving the amendment in a parliamentary committee that abolished section 28 – that shocking discriminatory law which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality by local authorities and schools. And with 2018 marking 30 years since the original passing of Section 28 we need to recall the damage that odious law did: it not only led to the LGBT+ community being shunned by some but it also gave rise to homophobic bullying in many communities.

I’m proud our party campaigned successfully to repeal that disgraceful legislation – and delighted we are campaigning today to go further, with our policy to make Sex and Relationships Education fully LGBT+ inclusive. As a party, we are committed to building and safeguarding a country and world where no one is forced to hide who they are or are made to feel ashamed of their identity.

We have never been afraid to speak up for what is just and right, even in the days when arguing for “gay rights” was seemed dangerously revolutionary and certainly wasn’t popular. And that long Liberal tradition of campaigning for equality was wonderfully advanced by my friend and colleague, Lynne Featherstone in the Coalition. She successfully led the Liberal Democrat fight for the introduction of same sex marriage – now our challenge is to ensure the government affords same sex couples with the same legal rights and protections as others.

Despite real progress, there is a great deal more work to do to win equality and freedom for all – not least in tackling the widespread discrimination faced by the Trans community.

Trans people are often denied equal access to basic services and many live in constant fear of harassment and violence. For years Liberal Democrats have campaigned for the removal of the spousal veto, which currently gives a non-transgender spouse the right to veto their partner’s gender recognition. We are also fighting for the introduction of ‘X’ as an option for those who identify as trans or non-binary; this would allow them to have option that is not prescriptive or rigid. As party we are proud that any self-defining woman is guaranteed access to any designated all-women parliamentary shortlist.

Practical advances to tackle disparities in our National Health Service have been important in our campaigning. Whilst in Coalition, we won a partial victory which somewhat eased the stigmatising ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, and their partners, and we want to go further to ensure that the remaining restrictions are consistently reviewed and eventually revised. Now we are fighting to make Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) available on the NHS.

The LGBT+ movement has made considerable strides over the last few years and we will always challenge any attempt to subvert or undermine that progress.

So, as you take participate in Pride celebrations this year, know that the Liberal Democrats will always protect your right to be who you are, choose who love and live in society free from hate, fear or discrimination.

Vince Cable Speech: Housing

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

“At the centre of the last budget was a pledge to build 300,000 UK houses a year to address the ‘housing crisis’.

We were taken back to the days when a post-war Conservative Government, under Churchill, was elected with this level of ambition, and more than succeeded.

Or to the interwar National Government when, under the much-maligned Neville Chamberlain, when there was a similar level of ambition and achievement in the aftermath of, and as an antidote to, the Great Crash.

More recently, in 1969, when I was embarking on a political career as a councillor in Glasgow, a record level of 378,000 homes were built. Large scale house building was then the template of successful local government.

Today, there is a significantly larger number of people per home available.

Yet in the 2010 post-crisis nadir only 133,000 homes were built during the year. And even as the economy comes out the other side, there were just 178,360 in 2016/17.

Brexit now threatens development rates again. Already two-thirds of small and medium sized construction firms are struggling to hire bricklayers and carpenters, 10% more than was the case even three months ago. There is a worsening crisis in construction recruitment which threatens any political aspiration to build more homes.

An estimated 240,000 to 300,000 units per year are needed to keep up with the rate of household formation but even that figure excludes a lot of hidden demand – in the form of young people living with their parents, for example.

This historic failure of governments – of all stripes – to stimulate housing supply at anything like the levels needed to meet demand is at the root of a great deal of social, and particularly inter-generational, injustice in the country today.

So while some of the solutions are necessarily technical, we should keep in mind throughout the end game. An affordable, secure home for all – and in particular for young people, to whom it is presently out of reach.

I want to set out how we could return to the levels of house building last seen two or three generations ago; and how a Lib Dem, mixed-economy approach, of public and private sector, can deliver it.”

Download the full speech here.

As an MP with epilepsy, I welcomed Sajid Javid’s announcement today

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

There have been times this past week when the emotional arguments surrounding the medicinal cannabis debate have threatened to overwhelm me.

It’s an issue that’s affected me not just as a politician, but on a deeply personal level too.

It seemed utterly unbelievable that it took a young boy’s life potentially being endangered before the Conservative government accepted the evidence that many have been pointing to for years.

Medicinal cannabis has the potential to alleviate the suffering of thousands of children in this country.

Children like my constituent Murray Gray, whose rare myoclonic astatic epilepsy can put him through multiple seizures a day, have their schooling interrupted, their health affected and their families constantly worried for their safety.

Over the past few months, I’ve got to know his mother Karen. I’ve supported her campaign and admired her strength as she petitioned the UK government for a change in the law, as she protested outside the Scottish parliament and continually spoke out in the media about the difference that medicinal cannabis could make.

So it was for Karen, for Alfie Dingley’s parents and for the family of Billy Caldwell that I felt an enormous sense of relief when the home secretary Sajid Javid announced he had listened to public pressure and would review the classification of cannabis.

But, as I mentioned, for me there is also a deeper and more personal resonance.

As I got to my feet in the Commons to welcome the announcement, a memory I have tried to bury for years rushed to the front of my mind.

It is a memory of coming to on a flight home from the Canary Islands. I was wearing an oxygen mask and was vaguely aware of my husband trying to reassure not only me, but the flight crew and the friends who were with us.

My then five-year-old daughter had been taken to the flight deck so she didn’t see what was happening, and I learned later that the crew had discussed diverting the flight to mainland Spain.

I had simply fallen asleep and had a seizure. It was something that has only ever happened in my sleep. It hadn’t happened at that point for 15 years and it hasn’t happened again since. But since my early 20s, I have lived with the fear that it might.

The first time it happened I was 25, about to get married and keen to start a family.

The doctors could not then, and cannot even now, offer an explanation as to what caused me to have a major grand mal seizure in my sleep.

For many years, I was afraid to sleep alone if my husband was away in case I had attack and there was nobody there to look after me.

If I woke up in the middle of the night, I would panic about why.

But I learned to live it.

Only once did I cry and it was nothing to do with me. When an infection suddenly drove my infant daughter’s temperature above safe limits and she suffered a febrile convulsion in accident and emergency, I lost it.

I suddenly felt the fear that my husband must have on that holiday flight and my mother would have lived with.

I knew, perhaps better than most, that one seizure can leave you damaged. It can kill you.

Fortunately, my daughter was fine and never suffered any recurrence.

But as I have campaigned for Murray Gray, and children like him, to have access to medicinal cannabis I have reminded myself daily, that as parents, this could be any one of us. It is something the home secretary himself alluded to in the chamber.

I have witnessed the pain and admired the courage of Karen Gray, the Dingleys and the Caldwells.

There can surely be nothing as all-consuming as the fear that lines your stomach like lead when your child is suffering.

All of us who have witnessed that pain and courage, or simply heard the stories of these families this week, should welcome the government’s actions.

But we must also ensure that those who have blocked progress in the past are not allowed to somehow steal this hope from the many thousands who stand to gain.

Let’s make a change

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

The Liberal Democrats have many strengths as a party.

But right now we are failing in one key area – diversity. We have too few women, too few people without a university education and far too few BAME members in our party.

This is not the kind of party we want to be.

Together we are going to do something about it but I need you to be bold.

Today, take one action, it’s just a small one. Ask someone who doesn’t look like you to join the party.

That’s right. Ask them. We are too coy as Liberal Democrats to ask people flat out.

But you can say ‘Do you want to be a part of real change?’ ‘Do you want to Stop Brexit?’ ‘Do you want to change things round here?’

In the coming weeks and months, my team will produce more resources and provide better support to help local parties recruit members beyond our mirror images – but we need to ask people. All the tools in the world won’t help if we don’t ask.

I will. Will you?

Yes, I will

Ask someone now – You will be pleasantly surprised. Let’s make our party look like the country we want to represent.

Rachel Palma Randle

Director of People

Brexit update

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

This month has been the most successful yet frustrating one we’ve had for our Brexit campaign.

At the end of May we won a series of victories against the government in the House of Lords.

We defeated the government on the EU Withdrawal Bill a staggering 15 times – thanks to the thousands of supporters who wrote to Peers we identified who would consider supporting us on this.

With the help of donations from supporters like you, we launched our biggest ever campaign outside an election – helping us to reach millions of voters with online adverts, direct mail, and street stalls across the country.

And we are now organising a mass attendance at our march for Europe – and over 900 of you are currently scheduled to be there. If you haven’t already, sign up to join us on the 23rd June.

And this week, the biggest week in Parliament for the Brexit deal since we triggered Article 50, you helped us flood the inboxes, twitter mentions and phone numbers of MPs to get them to sign our amendment to give the people a final say on the Brexit deal – including an option to Remain in the EU.

This week everything came to a head explosively in Parliament.

Theresa May showed that her focus in this EU Withdrawal Bill is entirely short-sighted and focused on keeping her position intact for a few more weeks; and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour MPs squirmed away from key votes, with 90 MPs rebelling – to both vote for and against an amendment that they were whipped to abstain on!

Read all about the sorry state of affairs here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/eu_withdrawal_bill_chaos

We are continuing our campaign to secure a final say for the people on the Brexit deal, and a chance to ‘exit from Brexit‘. With the EU Withdrawal Bill returning to the House of Lords next week there’s everything to play for, so help us strengthen our campaign.

Donate here to support us:

Liberal Demcorats March for Europe

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

To make matters worse Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party is still cowering behind the sofa rather than being a real opposition.

If there was ever a time for the people to stand up and demand to be listened to it is now – and they are.

23rd June is the second anniversary of the European referendum Leavers lied about having a plan and it’s now clear that there is no plan for our exit. It’s costing us all money, jobs, damaging the NHS and the future for peace and security for our young.

So I am asking you to join me on 23rd June as we march through London – to give voice to the people’s concerns.

The march will reconfirm our commitment to EU membership and call for a public vote on the deal – when people, not politicians, should have the final say.

It’s what Liberal Democrats have been calling for since day one.

I will also be joined by MEPs from all parties at this march. This is real, European cross-party cooperation.

So, I’m asking you to join together with me and with thousands of other pro-Europeans and march on Mrs May’s front doorstep. Wear your blue hats, bring your flags and swell the crowds.

We really can do this – public opinion has shifted hugely, we now need to make sure those in Westminster listen to us.

Join me – 23rd June Marble Arch 1pm.

Liberal Democrats March for Europe

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

To make matters worse Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party is still cowering behind the sofa rather than being a real opposition.

If there was ever a time for the people to stand up and demand to be listened to it is now – and they are.

23rd June is the second anniversary of the European referendum Leavers lied about having a plan and it’s now clear that there is no plan for our exit. It’s costing us all money, jobs, damaging the NHS and the future for peace and security for our young.

So I am asking you to join me on 23rd June as we march through London – to give voice to the people’s concerns.

The march will reconfirm our commitment to EU membership and call for a public vote on the deal – when people, not politicians, should have the final say.

It’s what Liberal Democrats have been calling for since day one.

I will also be joined by MEPs from all parties at this march. This is real, European cross-party cooperation.

So, I’m asking you to join together with me and with thousands of other pro-Europeans and march on Mrs May’s front doorstep. Wear your blue hats, bring your flags and swell the crowds.

We really can do this – public opinion has shifted hugely, we now need to make sure those in Westminster listen to us.

Join me – 23rd June Marble Arch 1pm.

Shameful Tory MP Blocks Upskirting Bill

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

We were so close.

Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse has been fighting to make ‘upskirting’ (taking photographs up a woman’s skirt without their consent) a specific criminal offence.

This morning it looked likely that this vile practice would be outlawed after it received backing from the Ministry of Justice, Number 10 and numerous MPs across the house.

However, today in Parliament, the Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope used an antiquated piece of Commons procedure to block the Bill from proceeding, amid cries of “shame” from outraged MPs. His actions meant that the Bill could not even be debated.

I’m disappointed, and angry on behalf of all the women for whom this meant so much…but completely unsurprised this happened.

Arch-Brexiteer Chope has repeatedly been on the wrong side of history. He has voted for the minimum wage to be abolished, against same-sex marriage, and in favour of fox hunting. This is not the first private members bill he has blocked – in 2014 he blocked a Lib Dem Bill which would have banned revenge evictions by private landlords, and in 2015 he blocked a Bill to restrict hospital parking chargers imposed on carers.

The Upskirting Bill will come back to Parliament in June, but there would be nothing to prevent Chope or other out of touch Tory MPs from pulling the same stunt again.

We need to make sure this bill passes.

In order to do so we need to make everybody aware of what Chope did today, and show him exactly how the public feels about his shameful actions.

We could expose Chope’s actions to thousands more through social media ads. Can you donate to our campaign here: libdems.org.uk/upskirting-donate

Otherwise can you help us pile pressure onto out-of-touch MPs like Chope by signing our petition below?

Council by-election latest – June 15th 2018

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Elections weren’t just being held for Parliament last night – there were also two Council by-elections, a delayed election in Southwark (with three seats up for grabs!) and a by-election in Doncaster.

In London Bridge & West Bermondsey, we pulled off a stunning win – winning all three seats that were up for grabs.

London Bridge result:

London Bridge & West Bermondsey (Southwark) result:

LDEM: 44.4%

LAB: 41.1%

CON: 7.3%

GRN: 7.1%

Liberal Democrat WIN (X3)

New ward.

Shares calculated w/ top vote method)

— Britain Elects (@britainelects) June 15, 2018

Those three results take our overall tally from the local elections up to 78 net gains and are a fantastic cherry on top of a great set of local election results.

Doncaster result:

Town (Doncaster) result:

LAB: 46.8% (+7.7)

YORK: 24.6% (-1.1)

GRN: 12.5% (-1.2)

CON: 11.4% (-10.2)

LDEM: 2.8% (+2.8)

IND: 1.9% (+1.9)

Labour HOLD.

Changes with May 2017.

— Britain Elects (@britainelects) June 15, 2018

Not every result can be as stunning as London Bridge, sadly, but we’re so glad to see the team in Doncaster putting up a candidate and giving people the chance to vote Liberal Democrat. Every time we’re on the ballot is a chance to build for the future.

But we’ve got to do it all again in May, so if you want to be part of making 2019 a great year for the Liberal Democrats, sign up to volunteer today: