Mum sent 65 miles to Paisley: City baby unit full

Baby Ruby Campbell was delivered prematurely by Caesarean. Picture: contributed
Baby Ruby Campbell was delivered prematurely by Caesarean. Picture: contributed
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A MOTHER has been forced to have her baby 65 miles away in Paisley because there was no room at a special care baby unit in Edinburgh.

Tiny Ruby Campbell was delivered by Caesarean section at the Royal Alexandra after mum Stephanie Cameron was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia – a potentially fatal condition that produces high blood pressure.

Born at 29 weeks weighing just 2lbs 7oz, Ruby spent her first nine days in Renfrewshire but was transferred to the ERI yesterday when a place finally became available.

While Ruby battled for her life, Ms Cameron, 24, and partner Alexander Campbell, 27, had to travel 130 miles each day to visit the hospital from their Portobello home because there was nowhere for them to stay.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through,” said Ms Cameron.

“They told me that I would have to deliver her early and couldn’t guarantee I could have her there.

“I went into the labour ward and was told that they would have to ship me out and take me to Paisley to have my wee girl.”

And Ms Cameron admitted she had been struggling to bond with her newborn because of the sparse time they have together.

“The one good thing is that she’s doing brilliantly and she’s breathing on her own,” she said. “But I’ve struggled to bond with her because I’ve only been able to see her for one hour a day when my partner comes home from work. It has been a real strain on all of us.”

The Evening News revealed how a growing number of mothers-to-be are being turned away from maternity units across Lothian, with more than three a week rejected from their first-choice ward.

NHS Lothian is the only health board in Scotland to divert patients to other hospitals – with some being sent to hospitals in the Borders and Lanarkshire – so mother and baby can get the care they need.

But Stephanie, a carer, said the experience has left the family emotionally and physically drained.

“I think it’s crazy that there was no room for her in a hospital of that size,” said Ms Cameron. “We both work and pay our taxes yet our young daughter cannot get in to her local hospital because they didn’t have an incubator for her. It’s not good enough.”

Ruby is expected to stay at the ERI until her due date of March 30, where Ms Cameron will be able to visit her more often.

Frances McGuire, acting chief midwife at NHS Lothian, said she was “glad to hear mum and baby are both doing well.”

“Childbirth can be very unexpected, however we have a raft of plans in place to make sure mums and premature babies get the immediate and potentially lifesaving care they need,” she said.

“There are a limited number of neonatal intensive care cots available at specialist centres and that is why we work collaboratively with other health boards.

“This can mean that expectant mums, who go into premature labour, may be transferred to another health board that also offers these specialist facilities before they give birth to ensure the best possible care.”

‘Transfers are safest thing for mother and baby’

Gillian Smith, director of Royal College of Midwives, Scotland, said: “There is a managed clinical network across the whole of Scotland which is designed to give mother and baby the best care possible. They will transfer the baby in utero as that is the safest place. If you are having a pre-term infant or anything that is at risk, and all the intensive care unit cots are full in Lothian, you could get sent to Aberdeen, Dundee, anywhere.

“Lothian is a tertiary unit so it does take referrals from across the country. It is unfortunate to be transferred but the most important thing is getting you somewhere where your baby is going to get the best care. In the past, we have seen patients go to Northern Ireland or Newcastle. It is the absolute safest thing to do for mother and baby.”