CAMPAIGNERS fighting to keep maternity services at Dorset County Hospital have said they are ‘disappointed’ and ‘angry’ with a response from Oliver Letwin who said he had been ‘persuaded’ that proposed changes will ‘lead to better and safer care’.

Beaminster resident Carolyn Emett wrote to the West Dorset MP asking for his support against the decision for maternity services to be downgraded at DCH, meaning babies under 32 weeks will be transferred to Poole.

In his response Mr Letwin wrote: “I have become persuaded that the changes which are proposed will actually lead to better and safer care for those of my constituents who have very premature babies or other serious complications, and I think it would therefore be entirely irresponsible for me to promote or join any politically opportunistic bandwagon against these proposals.”

Carolyn said: “His response was a bit of a surprise to say the least. I think the general thinking from everyone backing the campaign is disappointment and quite frankly, anger.”

Mr Letwin, who had previously backed the campaign and shown his support, has defended his decision. In a response to the Echo he said: “My own view is that we should be guided exclusively by what is most likely to provide safe and successful delivery of premature babies. That is what these proposals are intended to provide. And that is surely something we should all support.”

Carolyn, who is a mother of three and uses the maternity services at DCH often, said: “The decision for SCBU doesn’t make geographical sense. For people like myself in far West Dorset it’s adding extra travel onto an already long and sometimes difficult journey. Travelling an hour and a half instead of 35 minutes will put a lot of pressure on families, financially and other. It’s going to be hard for the mother too, who could fall into post-natal depression - I’ve seen this happen before.

“It is making an impractical situation impossible.”

In response to Mr Letwin’s letter, Carolyn added that she was not part of any ‘political bandwagon’ and was simply a normal person expressing her and many others opinion and asking for support.