A SPOKESMAN for the Ramadhan Foundation has slammed plans to axe Rochdale Infirmary’s accident and emergency, maternity and children’s departments claiming it will be a potential disaster for the Muslim community.
Mohammed Shafiq accused the government of not taking into account the diverse cultural needs of the town.
He said: "We are obviously deeply distressed by this decision. This will have a massive impact on the people of Rochdale.
"Our religion states that Muslim women must give birth away from the gaze of other people. Oldham and Bury hospitals are a four or five-mile car ride away.
"If a Muslim woman was to give birth in the car on the way to the other hospitals it would be disastrous."
The new plans followed a review of the Making It Better and Healthy Futures proposals carried out by a body of experts, the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.
They recommended the plans to re-organise health services across Greater Manchester, Cheshire and the High Peak, first put forward in summer 2005, be approved.
It means that Rochdale’s accident and emergency unit will be turned into an urgent care centre, with seriously injured patients being transported to the Royal Oldham, Fairfield or North Manchester General hospitals instead.
Under the proposals the Infirmary’s A and E could close within the next two years, depending on staffing.
Maternity services will be axed with eight centres of excellence being set up, the nearest being at Oldham and Manchester.
Mr Shafiq added: "We must pay tribute, however, to the hard work of all those involved in the campaign to save our hospital and we must all remember this decision when it comes to the next general election. It’s the only way now we can be heard."