Descending on Coleraine Town Centre on Saturday (May 13), hundreds attended a protest rally criticising the recent decision by the Northern Trust to move all births to Antrim Hospital.
The decision in March, following a 14-week consultation, would see births that would have usually taken place at Causeway Hospital moved to that Antrim.
Instead, Causeway Hospital would fall back to only providing pre and post-natal services to expectant mothers.
The decision will now need to be formally approved by the Department of Health; however, campaigners are seeking legal solutions to reverse this decision.
Citing the decision to move maternity services away from Causeway Hospital, the Trust said at the time that: “Clinicians have advised the Trust that the current provision of maternity services at Causeway Hospital is unsustainable because of falling birth rates, workforce challenges and the absence of neonatal special care baby unit facilities at the hospital.”
The organiser of the ‘Save Causeway Hospital Campaign’, Gemma Brolly, said: “The cutting of maternity services in our region is a life and death issue. It’s wrong, and our campaign will fight it.
“We need more investment in our hospital, not less. Mothers are already giving birth before they have been able to reach Antrim Hospital, and if Causeway’s maternity is closed, nearly a thousand women each year will have to make the longer journey to an already overcrowded hospital”.
“FOIs that we have submitted show that key maternity services have been stripped back at Causeway Hospital since 2013. This has reduced the number of births that are happening at our hospital and therefore reduced opportunity for staff.
“This is creating staffing problems and leading to increased pressure on Antrim Hospital. This is not by accident.
“It’s as a result of service centralisation and the health budget that is nowhere near large enough to deal with the demands on the service. The five Stormont parties have signed up to this process of centralisation.”
“This is only the start of the fight back. We now have a growing campaign built with real people on the ground. We are a campaign of families, nursing staff, community groups, sporting organisations and representatives.
“We will not sit back and watch the closure of services that will cost lives. We are currently taking legal advice on the legality of hospital service closures at a time when there is no Health Minister or functioning Stormont.
“There is no democratic accountability for these cuts. We demand speaking rights at the next public meeting of the Health and Social Trust Board. We demand a meeting with the Private Secretary within the Department of Health.”
In conclusion, Ms Brolly said: “We will organise further protests and public meetings in the coming months to keep these services.”