30 Years Ago

From the West Sussex County Times of Friday, October 21, 1983.

Mothers fighting to save Horsham’s maternity unit, have put their case to one of the town’s senior GPs.

Dr John Dew, who represents local GPs on the Horsham Hospital management team, responded immediately to their request for a meeting and was sympathetic to their cause, say the mums.

He was firmly in favour of keeping ante-natal and post-natal care in Horsham, but agreed it would have to be upgraded to a consultant unit, with obstetric and paediatric cover and an anaesthetist, to remain viable.

The GPs who provide medical care at the 11-bed unit are expected to decide next month whether to withdraw their services. Most believe it is safer to send mothers to the consultant-run units at Crawley and Cuckfield hospitals, where there is emergency back up.

Mid Downs Health Authority, which is responsible for Horsham district, says it would have little choice but to close the unit if the GPs pulled out. It claims it would not be able to afford to run a consultant unit in Horsham because it is too small a catchment area.

More than 50 mums, dads and toddlers braved wind and rain in Horsham’s Carfax to protest against the threatened closure. They waved placards and banners with messages like “Let our babies be born in Horsham” and “Choice in childbirth”.

A Horsham company has just clinched a £29 million deal to supply equipment for a radio telephone system – and the deal should be worth £100 million by 1990.

Thorn Ericsson Telecommunications Ltd, of Foundry Lane, describes its contract as ‘the world’s largest ever order for cellular radio equipment’.

A cellular system, which combines advanced techniques from both conventional telephone networks and mobile radio telephony, means a portable ‘phone can be carried in a briefcase or a handbag.

An area is built up into cells, some no more than three miles across, and each has its own transmitter or ‘base station’. Calls are automatically switched from one cell to another as the user moves through the area and they can be fed to both conventional and mobile telephones.

The deal is seen as a major coup for the Horsham company. Gerry Whent, chairman of Racal Radio Communications, said: “The first phase contract, valued at £29 million, was awarded to Thorn Ericsson after keenly-fought competition between some of the leading international suppliers. We selected the Ericsson system as being the best and we are sure that our trust and confidence in the company will be proved in the years to come.”