Legal action over Salford Royal maternity unit closure

A couple who believe their baby's life was saved at a Greater Manchester maternity unit are taking legal action against plans to close it.

Andrew Ludden and Becky Brooks' 15-month-old daughter Willow was born at 23 weeks, weighing 13oz, at Salford Royal Hospital.

The consultant-led unit is due to close in a re-organisation of maternity services in Greater Manchester.

Consultant-led maternity care will be concentrated at eight hospitals.

Units in Rochdale and Bury will also close under the plans which were approved by the government in February.

Trafford's centre has already closed. The others are due to close by early next year.

A midwife-led unit, for lower-risk births, is due to remain at Salford.

Ms Brooks and Mr Ludden believe the NHS Northwest, the strategic health authority, may not have met government requirements to prove there was a case for changing maternity services.

Ms Brooks, who was also born at Salford Royal, said: "Willow spent a lot of time on the special care baby unit. Without them I don't think she would have survived."

Her partner added: "The more people get involved the more pressure they will feel.

Image caption Baby Willow was born at 23 weeks, weighing 13oz

"They will have to look at the situation they have put themselves in."

The couple, of Salford, hope they will be able to overturn the decision to close the unit.

The closures were first approved by the Labour government in 2007.

But they were put on hold by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley when the coalition came to power last year, pending a review.

He issued new guidance for the reconfiguration of maternity care, setting out four key tests.

The couple's solicitor, Richard Copson of Manchester law firm Pannone, said he believed NHS Northwest had not "fully addressed" those key tests.

"We are asking the strategic health authority to provide us with the information, particularly in relation to patient choice, patient engagement and patient safety," he said.

The authority said it was waiting for communication from the family's solicitor.

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