THIS newspaper entirely supports the call from Wycombe’s new MP to allow our hospital’s maternity department to be run as an independent co-operative unit.

Steve Baker suggests this move would mean managers would be free to base these vital services on the needs and demands of patients.

Of course, the NHS Trust will say that is done already, and that the recent changes and transfers, have been made in the very best interests of patients. Pooling medical expertise in larger units, as opposed to running the same services in separate hospitals, has been seen in recent years as the safest way forward. Many doctors prefer working in larger teams because they believe smaller units are much more vulnerable to staffing shortages, especially given the recent European Working Time Directive.

However, this argument rather falls apart when the larger units, ie Stoke Mandeville, still suffer from severe shortages of midwives. As a result of the latest crisis, the midwife-led unit in Wycombe may have to close from August until November. We have no quarrel with the NHS Trust if that is its only option in these circumstances, but as MP Mr Baker illustrates, there has to be another way to tackle this.

Mr Baker must be listened to or it may soon be impossible to ever again have a baby in Wycombe – unless it’s in the back of an ambulance.