Support for service that was a real 'lifeline' for mum-to-be
MORE than 1,000 people have joined the fight to save a maternity service that has been a 'lifeline' for mums-to-be.
Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust has decided to close the Maternity Acupuncture Service, which was set up 25 years ago, due to a lack of funding.
But 1,189 people, many of whom are former users of the service, have signed a petition demanding trust bosses reinstate the funding.
Kerry Dungay, a mum-of-two from Manadon, used the acupuncture service after suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a severe form of morning sickness.
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She said: "At four months pregnant I weighed just over six stone and the medication I had been prescribed for the HG had stopped working.
"At that point my husband and I thought we may have to consider termination because the suffering was so severe.
"The clinic allowed me to continue with my pregnancy.
"This acupuncture service was my lifeline.
"When you read what people have written on the petition it is heartbreaking. The service really did save them.
"If the trust knew how devastating and debilitating illnesses like this are they wouldn't be making the decision to close the service."
But a spokesperson for Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust said that while the service was greatly appreciated by a small number of patients, it was not considered vital to maternity services.
"Closing this invaluable service will have a really detrimental effect on women in Plymouth," Mrs Dungay said.
"Their feelings of wellbeing will be reduced and their rights to choose what service and treatment they want is being taken from them. "
In a statement, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust said the acupuncture service was used by fewer than one per cent of the women who access their services.
Sue Stock, head of midwifery and associate director of nursing, said: "The decision to end our acupuncture service was not one we took lightly.
"But we have looked at it fully and we have made a decision which we believe, given the current financial climate, is the best one possible for all of our patients.
"Whereas before we were funded by the commissioners for every acupuncture treatment we gave, now we receive a single payment, or tariff, for every patient; this covers the whole package of care.
"From this payment we have to provide everything for that mum-to-be, throughout her pregnancy, birth and postnatally.
"This change in funding prompted us to look at everything we provide and how we get the best and most value from the money we have available for all of our patients."
The statement also said there was no evidence recognised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to support the use of acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth.
But Mrs Dungay added: "You can't argue against the fact that, with me, the medication wasn't working and acupuncture did."