Devon

Devon health watchdog looking at maternity changes

A council health watchdog in Devon is considering plans for a shake-up of local maternity services in the county.

Under the proposals women in parts of east, west and mid Devon would no longer be guaranteed overnight stays in community hospitals after giving birth.

Honiton, Okehampton and Tiverton's hospitals could be affected.

About 4,500 people have joined internet campaigns against the proposals. NHS Devon said the proposed system was about making the best use of resources.

Opponents to the proposals said the changes would mean mean less support for new mums, particularly with issues such as breast-feeding.

Society changes

Campaigner Eleanor Crawford, who had two children delivered at the Honiton unit, said overnight stays were very important.

She said: "You could get a couple of hours sleep and know that your baby is being looked after.

"Plus, you had the support to show you how to take care of your baby and how to breast-feed your baby, which is particularly important.

"But you are also shown how to bath your baby, and so on, as well.

"Because of the changes in society, a lot of women might not know how to do that. I certainly didn't."

NHS Devon said the new system was not about saving money. It said it would be fairer and would give more mothers the choice of having their babies at home or in a community hospital.

Councillors on Devon County Council's Health Scrutiny Committee are considering the issues and have been asked to support the plans.

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