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'They are playing with our lives'
A MOTHER who has twice given birth at the roadside accused health bosses of “playing with people’s lives” yesterday.
Amanda Livingstone-Owen, 37, from Ravenseat, in Upper Swaledale , gave birth to one of her six children in a layby at West Witton, in Wensleydale, and another at the side of the road in Reeth, Swaledale, while trying to reach the Friarage Hospital, in Northallerton .
She is outraged at the recommended downgrading of the maternity unit.
She said: “They are playing with people’s lives – it’s a time when you are most vulnerable.
“They have no idea what it is like giving birth in a layby. You can’t airlift women in labour – you have to go on the road.”
Families who regularly use the children’s services at the Friarage Hospital are also worried by many aspects of the proposed changes.
Andrew Newton’s five-year-old daughter, Aniela, is severely disabled with cerebral palsy and requires hospital admission at least once a month.
He said his wife and daughter would not be here today without the Friarage Hospital’s consultant-led team, which would go under recommendations.
Mr Newton said his wife, Kathryn, was classed as a lowrisk birth when she went into labour. But there were complications during the delivery and the swift response of a paediatrician-led crash team was needed to save them both.
He said: “If it had been a midwifery-led unit, she would have been dashed to James Cook hospital.
“But a doctor has told me my wife and daughter would have been dead if they’d had to rush them 20 minutes away to another hospital.”
Mr Newton, from Thirsk , says families like his own are worried by many other implications of the proposals.
He said: “At the moment, my wife usually stays with our daughter and looks after her. At James Cook will it be possible?
There are a few parent rooms, but what if they’re not available?
We will never leave our daughter there on her own.”
Amy Walker, from Northallerton, has two boys, Jenson, two, and Lewis, five, who often need medical attention at the Friarage for food allergies and other health problems.
She said: “You are entirely dependent on other people to get you to James Cook and pick you up again if you have a sick child.
How on earth will single-parent families manage? The Friarage is a home from home, they know the kids personally.”
Mr Newton said the consultation over the proposed changes fully engaged with them, but he feels the ultimate recommendations should not have been made by GPs.
He said: “Children like my daughter are not dealt with by GPs. We don’t see our GP – her condition is too high-level – but this review has been GP-led and I don’t think they understand these complexities or know how to handle or cope with these children.