Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mums-to-Be Can Rely on the Region to Deliver; FREE Antenatal Classes Are Being Axed Up and Down the Country as Part of the NHS Efficiency Drive. Here in the North East We Have an Antenatal Education Provision to Be Proud of. MIEKA SMILES Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mums-to-Be Can Rely on the Region to Deliver; FREE Antenatal Classes Are Being Axed Up and Down the Country as Part of the NHS Efficiency Drive. Here in the North East We Have an Antenatal Education Provision to Be Proud of. MIEKA SMILES Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: MIEKA SMILES

HOSPITALS across the country are axing antenatal classes to make efficiency savings. More than 97,000 mums nationally - 14% - have had to go private in the past year because their hospital has axed classes.

The Department of Health (DH) says it is up to individual hospital trusts as to whether the classes are shelved as part of a pounds 20 billion NHS efficiency drive.

POSITIVE Michelle Percival enjoyed the classes But here in the North East our trusts are bucking the national trend of scrapping classes, with all of the hospitals in The Journal's area promising that there are no plans to shake up the service that experts say is absolutely vital for expectant parents.

Netmums is an online parenting organisation offering mums and dads information on local classes and services.

Michelle Percival covers Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and Durham in her role as Netmums North regional co-ordinator. She is currently 31 weeks pregnant with her second child. She firmly believes that antenatal classes should continue.

She said: "I think what the Government is doing as a whole with children's services and family services is not good.

"I think getting rid of them will cause problems.

"I haven't been offered any antenatal classes this time around - whereas in 2007, I was put on a sixweek course which was really, really good." A Department of Health spokesman said: "The Government is committed to the NHS - to sustain and to improve services. And that is why NHS funding is increasing.

"But even with these increases, the NHS needs to make up to pounds 20 billion of savings by 2015."

CASE STUDY 1: LYN Carruthers, 33, is a group customer relationship and marketing manager for the Benfield Motor Group. She lives with husband John, 48, who works in cleansing for Newcastle City Council in Denton Burn, Newcastle. She is 30-weeks pregnant and is expecting twins. Lyn has antenatal classes booked in at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.

"I have three antenatal sessions planned - all twin specialist ones. One is where they take you around the antenatal unit and you discuss the different methods of pain relief. On the next one you go around the special care baby unit - which will hopefully take the fear of the unknown away.

"They also get parents of other twins in and talk about different coping strategies for immediately after the birth - such as what happens with feeding.

"I have to say that I'm really, really looking forward to going to them. I think that if they weren't there I would just be so much more apprehensive about what's going to happen ... it's that "unknown" factor.

"I think that from my perspective it would be really disappointing - and I think it would actually be quite distressing - not to have them for people in my situation. …

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