Leaders: ‘Predictions were way off the mark’

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The baby boom of recent years has been bigger in the Lothians than anywhere else in Scotland.

Young people flocked to the Capital to work during the boom years for the economy and so naturally enough the birth rate soared.

The city’s economic growth may have slowed considerably over the last couple of years, but evidently the number of new arrivals has not.

In a sense we are victims of our own success when it comes to the ERI’s struggle to cope with the number of mums expecting to give birth there.

But questions must be asked about the forward planning undertaken by the health board.

The growing number of births in the Lothians has been an established trend for several years now. Similarly, the growing number of women having babies later in life, leading to an increase in complex births, is hardly a new development.

Predicting future needs is always a tricky business, but with Edinburgh’s maternity unit having to turn expectant mums away twice a week it seems clear that in this case the predictions were way off the mark.

The opening of the new birthing unit at the ERI has on the whole been a success. The facilities are first rate and appreciated by the hundreds of women who have given birth there, but they have not been enough to address the capacity problem.

As Margo MacDonald points out, the most important thing for expectant mothers is the safe delivery of their child, but being forced to change their plans by moving to another hospital at the last minute is disruptive and potentially distressing.

The health board needs to review its arrangements in light of the latest problems. If the ERI cannot cope with the number of expectant mothers heading its way, it needs to find a way to expand its services, or more should be told from the outset to expect to go to St John’s in Livingston.

Equals opportunity

Some things in life just don’t add up.

And that certainly seems to be true for a quarter of parents in Edinburgh when it comes to helping with their child’s maths homework.

It may seem like a light-hearted survey but it does expose an important issue. The stumbling block for many seems to be confidence rather than ability to solve primary school puzzlers.

That should be easy to tackle with a little extra support for parents either through special parents’ evenings, which some schools already do, or an online resource. When it comes to learning, we need to make sure pupils, teachers and parents are on the same page.