On Tuesday 6th December, the day before the decision on Corbar was due, Andrew sent the following email to David Sharp and Mark Todd, of Derbyshire County NHS, which was subsequently read out at the meeting prior to the decision being made:
Dear David & Mark,
After the many letters, emails and conversations we have had over the last few weeks and months, this is a last and final throw of the dice prior to your meeting tomorrow at which the fate of the Corbar Unit will be decided.
I believe that a closure would be mistaken and misguided. I understand that you are looking to re-organise and look at budgets but a decision to shut Corbar is in my view, an easy short cut option. In a week in which I have received a copy of Chesterfield’s annual report which was luxurious in the extreme and the cost of which fills me with dread, I wonder if there are similar examples of what is, in my opinion, wasteful spending of health service funds. As I said, the report was from Chesterfield but it is not unique in many NHS publications that I have seen from further afield, so whilst not wishing to tar you all with the same brush it does raise questions in my mind. I trust and hope that in the event of a closure at Corbar on financial grounds I never see such profligacy within your organisation as it would rub salt into a very open and sore wound.
I will not repeat all the arguments again in this email but I believe that the case has been made for Corbar and I hope that the PCT has the courage to make the decision to retain it. If they do this then I think the past few months during the period of engagement / consultation, which incidentally I think has been badly handled, have not only shown the public opinion and enthusiasm for the unit, it has shown the matter in a sharp focus. The residents of Buxton and the surrounding area now have a full appreciation of how important it is to ‘use it or lose it’ in regard to Corbar and if retained I would be not at all surprised to see numbers increase as a result of the threat that has hung over it for the last few months. (Also if you were to close Darley Dale, I also think this would see a natural increase in Corbar usage – a point I made previously which you seemed to consider as valid and relevant.)
As I have said, I will not repeat all the arguments that have already been made, however I would like to add a further perspective to an argument already put to you. That is concerning the rurality, the impact of the local weather and the subsequent levels of deprivation.
The point has been made several times about the inclement weather that the Buxton and the surrounding area suffers. It is therefore ironic that this week has seen the first significant snowfall in the area. Roads have been closed, traffic has been at a standstill and access from the High Peak to Stockport and Macclesfield has been at best difficult and at times impossible for ordinary vehicles. I ask the question of you – how would a vehicle take a mother in labour to either of these hospitals in this situation – it wouldn’t and an ambulance call would be made, which as well as incurring expense (given that this appears to be the main driver for this exercise), it would cause great stress for the expectant mother and even then I would severely doubt the ability of an ambulance to negotiate these conditions. A quick look at the Facebook page to save Corbar will show you the comments being placed today by people affected by the weather. I would also point out that this weather has arrived now, in the first week of December. There are at least two more months of a Buxton winter during which these conditions could and are likely to repeat themselves leading to further hardship for my constituents. This brings me to the issue of deprivation. It was said to me earlier in the process that the cost of births in the High Peak was higher than elsewhere in deprived areas, so this was unfair. I would argue strongly there is an aspect to deprivation that does not purely rest on financial reasoning. I refer to rural deprivation. Yes we are incredibly fortunate to live in a beautiful rural are, but this comes at a price. We have less of things that people in urban areas have in plenty and this is not necessarily money. Fewer public services and commercial amenities produce a deprivation of a different sort, one that is not measured and oft ignored. By closing Corbar you will further add to that deprivation.
In conclusion, I beseech you and the PCT to think very very carefully about what you are about to do. The language from the outset has been in presumption of closure. I and many residents and the NCT have made our arguments, demonstrate that you have listened and do what is right for the High Peak, retain Corbar.
Following the decision to close Corbar from July 2012, Andrew said:
"I am absolutely shattered by this decision. I thought that we had made a good case for the retention of Corbar. Thousands of people from across the High Peak signed the petition, we highlighted lots of reasons why the unit should be kept open. I think the decision is wrong and has been taken for all the wrong reasons. It's ironic that it has been taken just as the first snows of winter have arrived in the High Peak bringing with them all the commensurate traffic difficulties and chaos. I wondered whether the snow was well timed to help reinforce our point, but obviously not.
"The closure of Corbar signifies the end of an era. I was born at Corbar 49 years ago and many people in the High Peak were also born there, but this is not about sentiment. It's about the true need for a rural area to have a safe place that is accessible with the necessary expertise for mothers to give birth. The decision taken by the PCT in their remote counting house is misinformed, misguided and wrong wrong wrong!"