In pictures: Coleraine town centre rally against moving maternity services away from Causeway Hospital

Coleraine Town Hall was the focal point for a rally protesting against the proposed moving of maternity services from the Causeway Hospital.

The Causeway Maternity Campaign group organised the protest on Saturday.

In March, the Board of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust approved a recommendation that all hospital births should take place at Antrim Hospital.

The recommendation was made following a 14-week public consultation on maternity services, including Coleraine’s Causeway Hospital.

At that time, a statement from the Northern Health and Social Care Trust read: “Clinicians have advised the Trust that the current provision of maternity services at Causeway Hospital is unsustainable because of falling birth rates, workforce challenges and the absence of neonatal special care baby unit facilities at the hospital. The workforce challenges reflect the wider problem of attracting specialist clinicians to smaller hospital sites.

"The consultation presented the Trust’s two ‘clinically deliverable’ options. Both options proposed the transfer of all obstetric consultant-led births from Causeway Hospital to Antrim, with retention and enhancement of early pregnancy assessment units, antenatal and postnatal clinics and scheduled ambulatory services on Causeway site.

"One of the options suggested the possibility of establishing a freestanding midwifery-led unit at Causeway Hospital. This option cannot proceed at the current time ahead of the completion of a Department of Health led review that includes service provision at such units.

"Given the extreme fragility of maternity services in the Northern Trust, the midwifery-led unit option has therefore been discounted at the present time and will be kept under review pending the outcome of this DoH led review. It has therefore been concluded that the only viable option at this point is the transfer of all births to Antrim Hospital.”

An online petition to retain maternity services in Coleraine has been signed by 1300 people to date.

The public service union UNISON also held a meeting in Coleraine in recent weeks to discuss the future of maternity service in Coleraine.

In a response to the rally the Trust said: “The Trust Board recommendation is being considered by the Department of Health.”

Here’s a selection of photos of the event...

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