The worrying saga of Liverpool Women’s Hospital continues
A new report suggests the facility might have to be relocated for ‘safety’ reasons. Campaigners are up in arms
Dear readers — come on, pile on in. The number 111 “is a spiritual number that has been shown to be significant in psychic readings, tarot cards, and even in the Bible,” as we just learnt from this website called Psych News Daily. We have no idea what to make of that, but it seems to tally because The Post has already picked up a spiritually-enriching 111 new paid members since the new year, our best month in ages. If you’re one of those new members, a very warm welcome indeed.
Today’s big story is about Liverpool Women’s Hospital, and the renewed threat to its current building on Crown Street. Options are being explored to relocate the hospital to the site of the new Royal, with services potentially integrated. Suffice to say, campaigners aren’t happy about it. As well as that, we’ve got a concerning update from The Spine, a local sing-songwriter to support and (another!) long-read about the miseries of Everton FC. We’ve also got our first sponsor in today’s edition, scroll down for that. Big thanks to The Knowledge for helping to fund our growth.
At the weekend Melissa Blease served up an 80s treat with a joyous first-person piece about a movement that was “glossy, pompous, and unafraid of flaunting pseudo-intellectual aspirations”: the New Romantics. “You cheered up my morning Melissa. I was a decade too old for the New Romantics, but the follies of youth happen to all of us and they are delicious and precious,” wrote one happy commenter. “So evocative... took us there and back” said another.
Catch up: Last week paying members received two great editions from us. Tuesday saw the return of the writer’s edition as Jack took us through a range of topics from the deranged joy of Stel Pavlou’s The 51st State to his own interior decorating shortcomings:
“I’ve now gone six months without a bed sheet and my interior decorations currently consist of a single dying plant, a stack of about 20 books (authors ranging from Peter Kilfoyle to Samuel Beckett) and a stack of papers given to me by Joe Anderson. It feels kind of like I’ve just finished a 12-year stretch and have returned to society with no worldly possessions and no interests beyond Liverpool City Council and the looming presence of death.”
Then on Thursday we asked an awkward question: was boxer Liam Smith’s homophobic outburst in the build-up to his recent fight with Chris Eubank Jr a reflection of a bigoted undercurrent in Liverpool? We explored a number of areas — like the city’s Roman Catholic heritage and anti-bourgeois socialism — and the piece prompted a great thread from Dr David Jeffery, a British Politics lecturer at the University of Liverpool. “The Scouse identity has a strong sense of who makes up the in-group (and by extension, who's in the out-group),” he wrote. “It's not hard to see how this long-term 'us/them' narrative might spill over into other areas of difference, such as being gay”.
Editor’s note: This month, set ourselves the ambitious target of reaching 800 members. We’ve now gone beyond 830, so a massive thank you to everyone who has joined us since the new year for your kind support. We’ll be starting the process of expanding our team in the next few weeks, a huge step forward in our mission to re-establish the kind of high-quality long-form journalism Merseyside needs. If you haven’t signed up yet, consider taking out a membership with the link below.
From today’s sponsor: If you enjoy getting The Post’s emails in your inbox, you are going to love The Knowledge, a brilliant newsletter that brings you up to date with important stories and insightful opinions from around the world in just five minutes. It is the brainchild of Jon Connell, the founder of The Week magazine, and the idea is to make the news manageable by bringing together lots of things that matter (and a few things that don’t) in a highly readable style. It somehow manages to be fun as well as informative, and — this might be the best bit — reading The Knowledge means you can spend a lot less time scrolling through clickbait and other nonsense on social media. Hallelujah! Sign up for free at theknowledge.com.
Want to appear here? By sponsoring our Monday Briefings you can reach our passionate and influential audience (13,285 readers and counting) while providing vital support for our journalism. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org now.
This week’s weather
Monday ☁️ Light cloud and a fresh breeze with highs of 9°C
Tuesday ☁️ Light cloud and a fresh breeze with highs of 9°C
Wednesday 🌦️ Light rain showers and a fresh breeze with highs of 9°
Thursday 🌧️ Light rain and a moderate breeze with highs of 9°C
Friday ☁️ Light cloud and a gentle breeze with highs of 9°C
Weekend 🌧️ Gentle breezes all weekend with light rain on Saturday, with highs of 9°C
This week’s weather forecast is sourced from BBC Weather and it’s for Liverpool.
The big story: The saga of Liverpool Women’s Hospital continues
Top line: Last Thursday, protestors managed to get an important NHS board meeting suspended. Cheshire & Merseyside Integrated Care Board (ICB) were meeting to discuss the future of Liverpool Women’s Hospital and possible plans to relocate it. According to Lawrence Dunhill, a journalist at Health Service Journal, it was quite a feat: “Prize for the first ever ICB board meeting to be suspended by protesters goes to.... Cheshire & Mersey!”
Context: The debate over a possible move has raged on for years. The One Liverpool report in 2015 concluded that a move to the site of the new Royal was the way to go, “including a preferred option: a new hospital for women’s and neonatal services on the new Royal Liverpool Hospital campus”. A campaigned mobilised to keep it open back then, but there now appears to be a renewed possibility the move goes through. As there is no funding for a new hospital (as One Liverpool recommended), the possibility of integrating services is being looked at instead.
Why the possible move? The board of the hospital's NHS Trust have previously cited several issues relating to patient safety, and a new report — written by consultancy firm Carnall Farrar — looks at why a move is on the table:
The lack of a 24 hour blood bank at LWH
A lack of long-term intensive care provision
Patients requiring ambulance services to transport them to other hospitals
The SAVE Liverpool Women’s Hospital campaign — the people who halted that board meeting — say that the hospital was graded “good” in terms of safety at its most recent Care Quality Commission inspection in 2020 (it received “good” gradings in all areas bar one) and that if specific services are needed, they should simply be funded for the current site.
Campaigners also say that Carnall Farrar — who were paid £200,000 for their work — refused to meet with them during the report’s preparation and are thus “bypassing the public”. In a statement, Dr Rebecca Smyth, a retired Senior Lecturer in Midwifery and member of the SAVE campaign, said:
“As a practising Midwife for 35 years the safety of women and their babies was paramount. To this end, I have scrutinised the Review by Carnall Farrar regarding the future of LWH. The Review is unable to provide any evidence or substantiate any of the claims supporting the move. I do not support any closure or move of the hospital.”
There appears to be some grey area over exactly what the suspended ICB meeting was called to discuss (ICB’s are statutory bodies responsible for local NHS services). Graham Urwin, chief executive of the ICB, denied that the meeting was to vote on moving a relocation of the hospital’s services, instead “reassur[ing] protestors that what was being voted on was not a future decision about the hospital but the next step in the process to look at improving healthcare,” reports the Echo.
What next? A committee group will now be established to explore solutions to the current issues with independent advisors in order to “[develop] a future care model to ensure the best possible care for women and babies across Liverpool.” The ICB insists its focus is solely on ensuring the improvement of patient safety, but the Carnall Farrar report highlights another issue: £350 million in expected cuts to health funding in the wider region over the next few years.
Bottom line: Liverpool Women’s Hospital has provided a vital and specialised service for almost three decades and does so in a country which hasn’t historically ranked well in metrics like childbirth mortality. In fact, it’s the largest hospital of its speciality in Europe. Moreover, capacity issues at the new Royal Liverpool Hospital have made headlines in recent weeks, so there are question marks over the ability to integrate another large service. Whilst no concrete decisions have yet been committed to, the protests can be expected to continue. “We’ll be watching & holding their feet to the fire,” the SAVE campaign says.
Know more about this story? Just hit reply to this email to get in touch - or email email@example.com.
Your Post briefing
Sean Dyche is the new Everton manager, taking over from the sacked Frank Lampard. Dyche, considered by many to be an ‘old school’ type manager whose teams are physical and hard-working, is best known for managing Burnley for 10 years, taking them up into the Premier League before being sacked last season. One of his final games at the club, incidentally, was beating Everton 2-1 after trailing at half time. The BBC’s Phil McNulty reported that Dyche famously observed of Everton to his players during the interval: "I'm not sure these know how to win a game." McNulty adds: “He is going to be Everton's new manager because they still don't know.” Everton currently sit second from bottom in the league.
EcoOnline, a large software company who signed a 10-year lease at The Spine in Paddington Village last year, have pulled out. EcoOnline was announced to much fanfare, expected to be a key player in the “healthiest building in the UK”. City council interim development chief Mark Bourgeois’s development update notes that though EcoOnline have withdrawn, “one or two serious enquiries in 2023 have been received.” EcoOnline already has a base in Prescot, but given that previous council documents announced that a lease had already been signed for The Spine, a question mark remains over what has gone wrong. Paddington Village still has some significant businesses on board, such as the Royal College of Physicians, but the report states that an “exit strategy” is now being considered for remaining plots.
Plans for councils to keep more money paid in taxes in their regions are being considered by Jeremy Hunt. Hunt has told colleagues he is considering increasing the amounts kept in business rates by local areas (from 50%) in one aspect of a plan to move “decisively towards fiscal devolution”. Changes to business rates would be part of a wider package that could see metro mayors, like Steve Rotheram, “receive billions of pounds in department-style settlements to spend on the local economy.”
Is Liverpool the UK’s architectural ugly sibling? We might think of ourselves as a place of architectural wonder — the two great cathedrals and shimmering Three Graces — but builders merchant Buildworld have stepped in to keep us humble. They ranked the UK’s ugliest buildings based on how people talk about them on Twitter and Liverpool made the top 10 twice. The Shankly Hotel squeezed into the list in 10th place and the Royal Liverpool Hospital (the old one, thankfully) came 4th. You can’t win them all, we suppose.
Home of the week
A large end-of-terrace property in Wavertree on the market for £290,000, which appears to have been previously owned by Liverpool’s biggest stag enthusiast (stag’s heads can be found in the kitchen and living room as well as a painting of a stag on the wall). Stags notwithstanding, the property has two bedrooms, a breakfast bar and a south-facing garden.
🗣️ Dive into the world of India’s coffee houses and brutalist shopping centres with photographer and writer Stuart Freedman’s talk at Ropes and Twines on Thursday. Freedman will be discussing his latest project, The Palaces of Memory — Tales from the Indian Coffee House. Entry is £6 and entitles you to a free glass of wine or beer.
🎸 Celebrate the release of local independent singer-songwriter Paul Crowe’s new single — Don't Fail Me — at Bold Street’s Leaf on Friday. You’ll have to be quick, in the words of Mr Crowe himself “tickets are flying out jump on early if you’re planning on coming down”. It’s £10.
🎵 “A multi-dimensional force, combining exquisite writing skills with shamanistic live performance, fierce raps and some absolutely wicked dance moves” from Kweku Sackey, aka K.O.G, at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. What’s not to like? Sackey was born in Ghana and mixes English, Pidgin and Ga to “paint sonic pictures that reach deep into the soul.” Tickets are £18.
🍺 Meet the minds behind your pint at Top Rope Brewing (Ben and Neil) with this curated brewery tour. It ends as you’d probably expect it to: with no fewer than eight half pints. General admission is £20.
Our favourite reads
The sartorial legacy of the casuals, a subculture that sometimes doesn’t get the attention of comparable scenes, is explored through the lens of the Walker exhibition The Art of the Terraces in this piece by Kenn Taylor for The Quietus. “There’s a risk with a show like this of falling into nostalgia for people of a certain age,” he writes, but this exhibition unearths ties between past and present, and explores how the casuals laid the groundwork for many a modern trend: “Football zines have largely given way to fan podcasts and you can now keep your trainers on in the office.” It’s taken a long time for this remarkably influential period of working class expression to get its due, but the Walker’s exhibition will surely help.
A powerful interview with former Birkenhead MP Frank Field in The Guardian, whose new book — Politics, Poverty and Belief — has been published against the odds, as doctors believed he would be dead before he could finish it. “It’s a strange experience taking so long to die. But there we are,” says Field, who has terminal cancer. Field reflects on the contradictions of his political career, a Labour man who considered “Mrs T” a friend (and was a Young Conservative until he quit the party over their stance on apartheid). His faith, he says, has helped him with his illness, but he continues to get involved in campaigning and social projects. “To be honest I hadn’t thought about it — dying — today, until you asked,” he says.
There appears to be no shortage of soul-searching long reads about Everton FC at the moment, but this one from Rory Smith in the New York Times is as good as you’ll find about the club (almost). Lampard is gone and Dyche is inbound but Smith finds deeper roots to the club’s discontent: “the tendrils of Everton’s chronic disappointment, its permanent crisis, climb: not with the manager but with the system in which they are expected, forlornly, to work.” The article describes how Everton’s unusually illustrious history — the fourth most successful team ever in English football — also acts as a “prison”, an irrelevance to present-day success that makes modernising a slower, more painful process. A fascinating read, if a highly depressing one for blues.
Photo of the week
Like Liverpool’s miniature Christ the Redeemer, the Liver Bird surveys the scene below it on a frankly freezing winter day. Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images.
Letters from readers
I watched the Liverpool Pride march last year and reflected that Liverpool has come a long way since the murder of Michael Causer but still has a long way to go. Only when there is no longer a need for a Pride march through the centre of Liverpool will we be able to say that there is no longer prejudice against gay people in Liverpool. Religion is part of it, but I suspect it's just as much the grinding poverty within our city and the temptation to pull others down just because they are different. Sport, especially football and boxing, can still end a career by coming out as gay, which is odd as sexuality does not change an athlete, ‘Is Liam Smith’s problem ours too?’, Ruth Smart
Really enjoyed your article. Great reading with my coffee on a Saturday morning. Great memories of that era, I loved both the 70's and 80's and it was funny to read some of the horrible things that were happening at the time and yet we just didn't let them get to us, almost living in a bubble. I also felt invincible, ‘Heroes for one day, every weekend: memories of a Liverpool New Romantic’, David Hughes