DEDICATED volunteers who provide vital support for the town’s hospitals are fighting to keep Darley Birth Centre open.
For over 40 years Matlock Hospital’s League of Friends has raised funds, helped patients and staff and fought closures and service reductions.
But the group faces a new challenge after health chiefs revealed they will be carrying out a review into the future of the maternity unit in Darley Dale in a bid to save money.
Pam Wildgoose, who has been secretary since the league formed in 1967, said: “This will be the third time we have had to fight to maintain maternity services in the district.
“Darley Maternity Hospital closed in the 1980s and money from that was put in to Darley Birth Centre to help build the extension at the back.
“The birth centre closed five years ago but campaign group MOMS (Maintain Our Maternity Services) fought to see it reopened and the League of Friends was part of that too.”
Following the hard fought campaign the centre was completely refurbished and is open to women from across Derbyshire and beyond.
The League of Friends has raised and spent over £2m in 44 years for the hospitals.
Projects at the birth centre include helping fund the building and subsequent upgrades, funding the birth pool and foetal heart rate monitor.
Mrs Wildgoose said: “We passionately believe mums should have a choice about where they give birth.
“Whether they go in to a major hospital, have a home birth or something in between at a midwife-led centre.
“Darley offers a more calm and relaxed atmosphere and help is on hand for things like breast feeding.”
Mrs Wildgoose said the League prides itself on spending every penny on the hospital – all expenses are covered by the membership subscriptions.
She added: “We are a highly successful league and it is all down to the generosity and support of the local community.
“Most people in the area, of all ages, have used the hospital at some point and want to see services maintained.”
The League also supports the Whitworth Hospital, on the same site as the birth centre and Orchard Cottage which provides care for adults with learning disabilities.
Mrs Wildgoose urged people to back the Mercury’s Don’t Ditch Darley campaign.
She added: “It’s such an important facility. We all want to see it stay.”
To find out more about the League go to www.mhlof.co.uk.