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Andrew’s latest contribution to the Health and Social Care Bill
Posted at 6:55pm 30th November, 2011
My Lords, I rise to support Amendment 131A proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege. My wife and I have three children and have experienced some choice as to whether they were born at home or in hospital. I must admit that this was not a matter to which my wife and I had given a great deal of thought when we had our first child 31 years ago. Then we naively assumed that having a child in hospital was fine and the normal practice. The doctor would look after us. However, the truth is that it was far from normal for a young married couple. We discovered later that everything that was done seemed to be focused not on the well-
Our second child was born at home in Tower Hamlets, under a new home birth scheme that was quite radical at the time and which was set up by Dr Wendy Savage. I must say that this experience was completely different. We all felt so much more relaxed and in charge of events, as best you can be on such occasions. It all happened rather quickly and in a relaxed atmosphere and was an experience of great joy for us all. The effects of this experience on mother and child, with a competent midwife present, were quite different. I must say that even I felt quite competent in making the tea. The first experience in hospital had all been about a culture of illness at the most important moment of parents’ lives; the latter was about health and well-
My wife was 46 years of age when we had our third child, who is now 11. There were concerns about the patient’s age, so she was called in early for a caesarean section. On this occasion, we arrived in the maternity ward in Hackney to be greeted by a man sitting in front of a locked door with two keys for two locks. This felt more like an establishment concerned with the security of nuclear weapons than one responsible for childbirth. Eventually, we gained access and were left in a room with a broken cupboard and rubbish on the floor for two hours, before my wife was eventually shown to her bed. The next morning-
Our family’s three experiences of childbirth are sadly not unique; what is on offer in our hospitals’ maternity services is quite varied. It is really important that the interests of the mother and child are paramount and centre stage at this important moment of life, and that they have real choice in the provision of maternity services. My colleagues and I created one of the first LIFT companies in the United Kingdom, in east London. It has now built 10 health centres in the East End. One of those new health centres, on the Isle of Dogs, has a birthing suite in it and the quality of care that the midwives give to mothers is excellent. Indeed, the then chairman of the LIFT company reminded me recently that one local East End mum had described the birthing suite, based in a local East End community, as being like a “bleeding hotel”. This is the quality and choice of services that patients deserve and for this reason, I support the amendment.
19 December 2017
"What we must all focus on and protect is the calibre and experience of those people who are called to sit in this Chamber .... your Lordships’ House is not centrally about numbers but about people."