Council crushes fight for Darley

It’s the end of the road for Darley Birth Centre after councillors decided not to fight the decision to close the unit.

The last glimmer of hope for the Darley Dale maternity unit was dashed by Derbyshire County Council’s improvement and scrutiny committee at its meeting on Monday – when members said they would not to refer the closure to the Secretary of State.

Chair of the meeting Gill Farrington said: “I’m mindful of all the messages I’ve had to take the decision to the Secretary of State.

“I know there has to be good evidence for us to do so or all we are doing is delaying the inevitable.

“But I would like to say the scrutiny committee works for the public and I think on this issue we have put as much time in as we can.”

Fears were raised at the meeting about alternative services being in place in time for the unit’s closure on July 1 after NHS bosses admitted that a new model may not be ready until March.

But David Sharp, chief executive Derbyshire County PCT, said he was confident that July 1 was the best date for closure and they were set to talk to GPs about the way forward.

Mr Sharp also said the safety of mothers and babies would not be compromised by shutting Darley and the midwife-led birth centre at Corbar but accepted that women would have less choice about where to give birth.

He added: “I can’t avoid the fact that we will be shutting down two places of choice.

“It’s not a safety issue but with choice it’s a question of choice for the population served by the centre.”

Members of Matlock Hospitals League of Friends said they were disappointed by the decision.

Chair Diana Dakin said: “I do worry about those mothers who are due to give birth around the time of the closure.

“It is a sad day for the women who live in this rural part of Derbyshire – they will be losing an invaluable maternity service and choice of where they wish to give birth.”

Mrs Dakin said she felt Dales GPs had not supported the unit.

She added: “They have a commitment to the community.

“If they had supported Darley it would have made a big difference.”