Protest rally held in Coleraine against Causeway Hospital maternity decision

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The decision to suspend births at Causeway Hospital has caused significant concern among women, with campaigners stating that they are “extremely worried.”

The Department of Health announced last month that maternity services would be centralized at Antrim Area Hospital.

In protest against the decision, campaign group SoS Causeway Hospital organized a march from the hospital to Coleraine town hall on Saturday. The changes resulting from a 14-week consultation will be implemented starting from Monday.

During their meeting on Friday, the group engaged with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, who clarified that the decision does not indicate a desire to downgrade Causeway Hospital. The trust emphasized that the maternity decision does not imply any plans for closure.

The trust responsible for delivering health and social care services in the community expressed the importance of adapting to the evolving demographic of the local population.

They highlighted their substantial investments in improving ambulatory and frailty care services at Causeway Hospital to better serve the community.

The trust has reported a decline in births within the Causeway Coast and Glens area and anticipates a further 11% decrease over the next two decades.

On Saturday, Gemma Brolly from SoS Causeway Hospital expressed that women in the community are “extremely worried” about the situation.

According to Gemma Brolly from SoS Causeway Hospital, people, especially those in rural areas, perceive this decision as a removal of essential services that they are entitled to, just like anyone else.

Starting from midnight tomorrow, Causeway Hospital will no longer have the capacity to provide childbirth services.

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As a result, women in need of childbirth services, including those in emergency situations, will be required to bypass their local hospital and travel to Antrim instead.

Lauren McAuley, a participant in the protest, expressed concern that women in the area were being significantly disadvantaged by the decision.

“We cannot expect a baby on the verge of being born to wait while we travel for another 50 minutes,” she exclaimed passionately. “This decision demonstrates a lack of priority for critical matters and puts lives at risk.”

Jade Best, another woman, shared that her personal experiences of giving birth to her two children at Causeway Hospital had been “fantastic.”

“We had the opportunity to utilize the new water birth maternity suite,” she mentioned. “The water birth suite is absolutely incredible. It was introduced in 2018.” She further stated, “We have all come together in full force because we strongly oppose the closure of the maternity unit.”

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