More than 3,000 people have given their support to a campaign to keep complete maternity services in Solihull.
A Facebook group - Save Solihull’s Maternity Services - has even attracted 1,000 members on the popular internet site within days of going online.
A further 2,000 residents have queued up to sign a petition to stop Heart of England Foundation Trust moving ahead with plans to no longer carry out any high risk pregnancies at Solihull Hospital.
Expectant mothers going through difficult labour or about to deliver premature babies would be sent to the Trust’s larger hospitals of Heartlands, six miles away in Bordesley Green, or Good Hope, 19 miles away in Sutton Coldfield, instead.
The battle to stop the move has attracted overwhelming support, particularly on the internet.
Solihull resident Kelly Marie Newton wrote on Facebook: “I’m 16 weeks pregnant with my first child.
“I’m nervous that if Solihull and Heartlands are full when I go into labour I’d have to get to Good Hope.
“I live in Solihull, I don’t even know where Good Hope is never mind wish to have my child there, miles from anyone I know if my partner has to work. What chance have parents got if their options are reduced further?”
While Paula Ashford Clarkson wrote: “I had my daughter at Solihull Hospital and they were amazing. I can’t believe they are thinking of downgrading it.”
Angela Ellis added: “I was born at Solihull as were both my girls. If Solihull didn’t provide maternity services I would have had Emily, my second daughter, in the back of the car driving to Heartlands because she came so fast. Solihull needs a maternity hospital with even more facilities.”
There are 2,700 births at Solihull Hospital each year, but that number will drop by three-quarters once the changes come in, in April next year.
Campaign leaders Maggie Throup and Jim Ryan said they hoped public pressure would help halt the changes.
Maggie said: “The comments we have received from Solihull mums and dads alike are incredibly supportive of Solihull Hospital in general and its maternity services, but more importantly, it’s the staff who really make the difference.
“I’ve already had a meeting with the Chief Executive of the Trust, however I have now written a letter to him with more searching questions and asking for the evidence behind the proposals to be made public.”
Trust bosses say the changes are being made to reach new national guidelines to make maternity units safer.
Consultants are currently paged by midwives at Solihull when extra support is needed for more complicated births, but this will be replaced with a midwife-only unit which will only deliver normal low risk pregnancies, and carry out routine scans and antenatal checks.
Bill MacKenzie, gynaecology consultant at the Trust, said: “There is an increased requirement for specialist resuscitation skills to be available for the small number of babies born requiring this specialist help. In order to fulfil these new requirements, clinical teams from the hospital and local primary care trusts have reviewed maternity services at Solihull Hospital.
“The current arrangement means that Solihull will fall outside new standards, which include providing resuscitation within ten minutes.”
MP Lorely Burt (Lib Dem Solihull) is also backing campaigners and has sponsored a Commons motion expressing concern at the proposals, and demanding better funding for Solihull Hospital instead.