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Mum ’s plea to save children’s services at Boston Pilgrim Hospital after baby suffers a stroke

A mum whose baby was saved when he had a stroke after being born is urging for children’s services not to be cut from a Lincolnshire Hospital.

Rachel Bray from Boston strongly believes options which could see children’s and maternity services cup back from Pilgrim Hospital due to a lack of staff will cost lives.

Rachel and her husband Chris were expecting the birth of their son, Oliver, to go smoothly as Rachel had experienced a low risk pregnancy.

But after she gave birth, Oliver stopped breathing.

Rachel Bray with son Oliver and husband Chris
Rachel Bray with son Oliver and husband Chris

Rachel said: “When I had my son Oliver in January 2011, I went into Pilgrim Maternity, as most mum-to-be’s do, thinking that I was going to have a healthy baby and would soon be home – family complete.

“Sadly, although I was low risk, once I had given birth to Oliver, he then became high risk.

“He stopped breathing and was whisked away to neonatal.

“The amazing team on both maternity and neonatal worked to stabilise him, ventilated him and then he was moved to Nottingham City Hospital.

“Both Nottingham City and Queen’s Medical Centre treated him, and discovered that he had suffered a grade two stroke, he was extremely poorly.

Residents are not happy with the potential plans to close Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital

“But due to the fast acting midwives, nurses and doctors at Pilgrim and beyond he is now a cheeky seven-year-old, and we are so grateful and thankful to them all.”

Rachel and her husband have raised money for the Pilgrim Neonatal unit for four years as their way of thanking them.

They are now campaigning as part of the SOS Pilgrim group against plans which could see children’s services cut.

Rachel said: “Once I learned about the potential closures and downgrades back in February this year, I joined SOS Pilgrim to help spread awareness to family’s locally and in the surrounding areas all of whom these decisions could severely effect.

“I was amazed at how few people actually knew what was happening, and still don’t.”

Children’s services at the hospital have been threatened with closure since April due to a lack of staff.

Members of the executive board at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust recently voted through plans to maintain paediatric and maternity services at Pilgrim Hospital past August 1.

High risk pregnancies and seriously ill children will be transferred to other hospitals.

Rachel said that moving patients to other hospitals creates a huge amount of pressure for families.

She said: “I know from my personal experience, the pressure this puts on families, both financially and emotionally, and I was lucky enough to have a great network of friends and family to see me through this time.

“And not forgetting the staff, that became my extended family, it is very scary and lonely experience, let alone being miles away from home too.

What now for Pilgrim Hospital?

“Also low risk can quickly and suddenly change into high risk, and if a baby is going to come early, it doesn’t bear thinking about how many may be born in the back of ambulances on route to another hospital, or are being put at risk by these plans.

“I fear that lives will be lost by making these changes, as they are not safe, and that our children and community deserve more.”

Councillors at Boston Borough Council have poured scorn on the management at the hospital with a vote of no confidence in their ability to resolve the threat to children’s services.

A ULHT spokesperson said: “We understand there is concern from members of the public regarding the staffing situation at Pilgrim hospital, which very much reflects the national shortage of paediatricians.

“We would like to reassure everyone that we are doing everything we can to work up plans that will enable us to sustain services at the hospital. We are working very closely with our local MP and appreciate his support. We will continue to work with the local authority, members of the public, patients and staff during this challenging period.”

A further update is expected from the trust board on the service on July 27.