Costs analysis seems flawed

I am writing in response to your “Don’t Ditch Darley” article (Matlock Mercury, Thursday,May 26) and chief executive David Sharp’s figures about how much Darley costs.

He claims: Darley Birth Centre would cost the NHS around £1.5 million over the next five years, and pointed out that about 500 births would be born at the centre during that time, but the money could also pay for 281 hip operations.

Firstly, do these figures take into account for the fact that those 500 births would still happen, either at home or in hospital, and therefore would still incur a cost?

One would like to think that some of the money saved from the closure of Darley, would be used to pay for community midwives to provide the ante and postnatal care locally, and to facilitate extra the increase in home births that would likely come from the closure of the centre, as well as pay for those of the 500 who would chose to give birth in hospital. Those 500 women will not just disappear.

Secondly, he implies that the 500 women who give birth at Darley are preventing 281 elderly people from having hip operations.

I am highly sceptical that any money saved from the closure of services would be pumped back into the NHS, and not simply disappear into the black hole of cuts.

Finally, the way in which value for money is calculated for the birth centre does not paint a full picture.

It only “counts” if the mother actually gives birth there. It does not place any value whatsoever on the fact that many women begin their labours there but for medical reasons have to transfer, nor does it recognise the benefits of the exceptional post natal care provided by the unit. One only has to look at the League of Friends’ “We Love Darley Birth Centre” facebook page to see how much this is valued by the women who have used it.

This is the level of care the NHS should be promoting, not cutting.

Mrs Walker

The Close