The first woman to give birth at the re-opened Darley Birth Centre has spoken out against NHS plans to close the unit.
Mum-of-two Claire Conder, of Morledge in Matlock, gave birth to her youngest daughter Sadie at Darley on October 1 2007.
The midwife-run centre, in Darley Dale, was temporarily closed in autumn 2006. Maintain Our Maternity Services – MOMS – collected 5,500 signatures in a petition against the closure and the centre was reopened a year later.
Claire, whose first daughter Katie was born at Calow Hospital in Chesterfield, said she was delighted to be able to go to Darley.
She added: “I moved back to Matlock and knew I wanted to go to the birth centre.
“I absolutely loved it. It was a wonderful place and the girls could not have done more for me. It was a special experience to be the first person to go there.”
She said Sadie’s birth was a very different experience to her first labour at Chesterfield.
She added: “It was not very personal at Calow and there seemed to be lots of things going on. There was a change of staff too so all in all it was not a nice experience for me.”
Sadie was born at 9.59pm on October 1 weighing 8lbs 1oz.
Family and friends came to visit Claire and her cousin even set up a hot-dog stand from his van at the birth centre.
Claire said: “I couldn’t praise them enough. It’s a lovely place and they made me feel so at home.
“There was a real sense of newness as it had just reopened and everything had been beautifully decorated.”
Claire, who formerly ran beauty salon Elegance in Dale Road, said she felt Darley had not been promoted properly.
She added: “When I was pregnant with Sadie I went to Chesterfield and there wasn’t anything there promoting Darley at all.
“I would have expected them to have been promoting a beautiful place like Darley. For a hospital like that it should be their duty to give people all the information about where to give birth. I think part of the problem is they haven’t promoted it enough. If Darley was to shut down now it would be a crying shame.”
The NHS is running an engagement period for people to have their say on the future of the unit. A decision on whether or not to close the centre will be made in November.
Health bosses are considering closing Darley to save money and say more is spent on average per low-risk birth at the two centres than on more complicated births in nearby hospitals.
David Black, medical director of NHS Derbyshire, said: “As part of the review we are asking people across Derbyshire for their views on the services and what their concerns would be if the units were to close.
“Only low-risk women can give birth at Darley, but the cost is much greater than for low risk deliveries at the other midwifery led units used by Derbyshire women. With the financial pressures the NHS is facing, it is important that we make sure services represent fair access to care and value for money.”
A public meeting is being held on Wednesday, September 7 from 12.30pm to 2.30pm at the Whitworth Centre, Darley Dale
People can also have their say online, by email, post, or by telephone. For more information go to www.mhlof.co.uk. The engagement period lasts for 12 weeks until October 23.
n Have you got a view on Darley good or bad? Join the consultation and have your say by writing the Mercury a letter. Turn to page 8 for details of how to contact us.