EXCLUSIVE DOCTORS have warned that some emergency patients WILL DIE if Macclesfield Hospital women's and children's services close.
DOCTORS have warned that some emergency patients WILL DIE if Macclesfield Hospital women's and children's services close.
And top paediatrician Dr Ian Spillman likened the future of A&E without child specialists to "flying with a pilot who has only been in a flight simulator".
At a meeting for more than 250 anxious residents last Friday, hospital clinicians and councillors rallied to voice their fears that the closure of the children's inpatient, maternity and neonatal units would have a "domino effect" on the rest of the hospital - and "seriously compromise" the A&E department.
And for the first time since the Making It Better consultation began, chief executive of the East Cheshire NHS Trust John Wilbraham has admitted the hospital will seriously suffer if there is no children's unit and he urged residents to vote for Option D to save the services.
A&E boss and physician, Dr John Gathercole, summed it up in one sentence. "Some patients will not make it," he said. "There is absolutely no doubt that closure will have a profound effect on our department. It will be seriously compromised - and I am anxious about the long term viability of the A&E department, and of the whole hospital, if it does close.
"I personally have no doubt the expert care of the seriously ill child or the young woman with a major bleed following a miscarriage would be delayed and this would increase the risk of death, or more prolonged and severe illness."
The children's inpatient, maternity and neonatal services are under threat because of proposals in the Making It Better review.
Option D includes the retention of these services at Macclesfield - but if the preferred Option A is given the go-ahead, these will be lost.
Residents flocked to the meeting at King's School to listen to MP Sir Nicholas Winterton and the doctors .
The experts were from the paediatrics unit, A&E, gynaecology, general care and management - and they were all unanimous in their fervent support of the children's services - and fears about the dreaded "domino affect" on A&E. They praised residents for their passion and commitment to keeping the hospital open.
Consultant paediatrician Dr Ian Spillman said: "When we have cases of serious child illness it is vital that A&E and the women and children units work together to give the best possible care.
"If it closes, there will be less child specialists. For some children, being treated by an A&E doctor will be like flying with a pilot who has only ever been in a flight simulator, rather than one who has experience in a plane."
East Cheshire NHS Trust's paediatric department has six full-time consultants and their skills are frequently needed in the A&E Department.
Dr Spillman added: "These are not just statistics - these are children with problems and families who are drastically affected."
Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Valerie Lether added: "It feels like we are on a rocky road to nowhere - getting swept away in a torrent. I f we close there will be a domino effect. If A&E had to close due to infection, they would struggle without back-up support."
Dr Lether defended the unit, the purpose-built clinic, day classes, midwives, antenatal treatment and "dedicated caesarean team".
She said that the loss of paediatrics would mean the sacrifice of a world-recognised training facility.
Dr Rob Stead, consultant physician with the NHS, said: "There are inevitable questions about the viability of A&E if there are no paediatrics or obstetrics departments."
Dr Gattercole added: "I feel the future of Macclesfield Hospital and its A&E department is much more assured with a full consultant-led paediatrics and obstetric service."
Speaking yesterday (Tues), Val Aherne, director of service planning and improvement at the hospital, responded to the doctors' warnings and admitted that the staff in the women and children's services are often used by A&E.
"If there was no longer an overnight paediatric and obstretric facility at Macclesfield District General Hospital, a number of staff would need to be redeployed," she admitted.
She explained that it was not possible to give a specific figure because this would depend on the type of service that remains at the trust following the outcome of the public consultation.
"If children's and maternity services are no longer provided by the trust at the conclusion of the consultation, there will be a potential impact on surgical services, the Accident and Emergency Department, gynaecology services, the training of doctors, the ambulance service and GPs," she added.