Carwyn Jones has announced that the Welsh Government are to look at 'another model' for providing neonatal care in north Wales. The current proposals would see services transferred to Arrowe Park near Liverpool.
Plaid Cymru claim that today’s announcement is an admission by the First Minister that moving specialised neonatal services out of North Wales is the wrong approach.
We have clearly won the argument and it’s a shame that Carwyn Jones didn’t admit as much months ago. Had he done so, Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board could have developed proposals to retain the service in north Wales from the start, avoiding the terrible waste of time and money in now having to consider a different approach. This is clear proof that the NHS lacks direction from the Welsh Government which is why it is in such a mess.
I’m hugely concerned that he seems happy to accept the imminent loss of the service, saying that he’ll try to bring it back at an unspecified point in the future. In the meantime mothers and babies will still be exposed to all the risks Plaid, the BMA, RCN and RCM have been warning against. The First Minister also doesn’t seem to understand that a key consequence will be the loss of expertise within the remaining intensive care services for newborn babies in north Wales. Once the intensive care service is lost it will be much more difficult to re-introduce it.
The government’s statement is very ambiguous on timescales and we will need to redouble our efforts to ensure that Labour isn’t allowed to kick this into the long grass. This campaign is far from over.
The Conservatives say Carwyn Jones hasn't done enough by ordering a review of whether specialised neonatal care can be returned to North Wales in the future, following his decision to approve its transfer to the Wirral.
I welcome this statement and the fact that it leaves the door ajar on the retention of long-term intensive care for sick and small babies in North Wales -but it doesn't go far enough. It's very disappointing that the First Minister has failed to set out a clear timetable for the decision making process. The ongoing uncertainty over the future will continue to be a cause of anxiety for hardworking staff and parents.
The First Minister must act swiftly to publish a timetable and provide assurances that no services will be withdrawn during the period of his review.I am confident that, if the First Minister is true to his word and listens to clinicians, these services will be safeguarded within North Wales and the potentially dangerous decision to relocate services from the region will be scrapped.
That's because the move is seen as 'clinically imperative.' So the First Minister's statement backs the local health board's plans but means that he'll commission a review into ways of bringing the services back into Wales in the long term. That may not be the reassurance campaigners hoped for.
The First Minister says that his decision to look at a 'third option' for neonatal care in north Wales "should in no way be taken as a criticism of their actions."
He says "we all recognise change in the NHS has to happen and it raises difficult and challenging issues for all of us. This is particularly so when vulnerable babies are involved. All of us share the common desire to do what is best now and into the future."
The public will rightly expect all of us to work together on all actions, short, medium and long term, to put in place safe and sustainable services. It is important BCUHB continue with this work and my decision should in no way be taken as a criticism of their actions. We all know health services have to change in Wales and in this particular instance I am asking for advice on whether there may be an opportunity in the future to provide these neonatal services within North Wales.
Today's intervention by Carwyn Jones follows protests from parents in north Wales. Campaigners have argued against moving services that are currently provided in three hospitals in north Wales transferred to Arrowe Park on the Wirral.
Those fighting the plans have warned that plans to treat babies more than 16-weeks premature at a single intensive care neonatal service at Arrowe Park, on the Wirral, would leave relatives with too far to travel.
Earlier this month the First Minister announced that he would personally decide whether to call in the controversial plans.
He said he would take personal responsibility because the previous Health Minister Lesley Griffiths's Wrexham constituency would be directly affected by the plans.
Carwyn Jones has announced that the Welsh Government are to look at 'another model' for providing neonatal care in north Wales. In a statement he said that he has asked for independent advice to look at "future possibilities for the development of specialised neonatal services in North Wales."
The First Minister says that he work will look at "the feasibility of providing a neonatal intensive care service located within North Wales."
"I wish it to also look at the interdependencies with other acute services, travel distances and ensuring BCUHB maintains and builds clinical expertise."
The Betsi Cadawaldr University Health Board has proposed moving specliast neonatal care services to Arrowe Park near Liverpool.