Hospital bosses are ‘playing Russian roulette with babies’ and mothers’ lives’, a campaigner has said after second baby was born at the roadside en route to the Conquest.
Victoria Burcham, 30, gave birth to Amelia on Sunday morning (September 7) by the Ravenside roundabout at Glyne Gap as she was being rushed over to hospital.
Her daughter was born with the umbilical cord wrapped twice around her neck. Luckily Victoria and Amelia, from Eastbourne, are well, thanks to skilled paramedics but the incident has led to angry calls from campaigners, who want consultant-led maternity services at both Eastbourne’s DGH and the Conquest. NHS bosses decided earlier this year to centralise consultant-led maternity at the Conquest. Liz Walke, chairman of Save the DGH, said: “This is playing Russian roulette with babies’ and mothers’ lives. It’s extremely dangerous and we are extremely concerned. Those at higher risk of complications are having to travel further.”
Margaret Williams, chairman of Hands off the Conquest, said: “We have always maintained that there should be two consultant-led units. Pregnancy is a very difficult thing because you never know what is going to happen. It’s a long way to come on very busy and congested roads.” Councillor Mike Turner, who attends East Sussex County Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board on behalf of Hastings Borough Council, said: “I said in February that this could lead to a life or death situation, as you can’t plan for an emergency. I’m not surprised and I think there will be more of this.” Victoria was booked into the Conquest, rather than the DGH, as she had suffered from Strep B and needed a specific antibiotic at the time of the birth. Dan said: “As we got near Bexhill, the ambulance stopped and paramedic Jim told the driver to go on for five minutes. They drove on and Jim said: ‘We’re not going to make it.’” Both men got into the back. Then followed a terrifying few minutes as the team discovered the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around the baby’s neck but Jim managed to free it. Alice Webster, director of nursing at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We are sorry if Mrs Burcham experienced any distress. We appreciate this would not have been the ideal experience for her and her family. However the paramedic crew is trained to deal with these situations and are fully equipped to assist in the delivery of babies born very quickly. Labour can be unpredictable and sometimes delivery is very quick and it is not uncommon in these circumstances for mothers to deliver their baby even before they have time to leave their home.”