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Hywel Dda Health Board: 'safety net' will ensure patient safety after reforms to specialist baby care

Hywel Dda University Health Board says it welcomes today’s announcement on restructuring specialist baby care services, saying the proposals will make women and children’s services "safe and sustainable".

We understand there is concern and as our planning develops following today’s announcement, we will undertake an extensive programme of communications to ensure everyone understands what the changes will mean and when they will happen.

We are aware of particular cases being raised across the media. We are very clear that neither the Health Board nor the Minister would ever put forward an unsafe service and the safety net the Minister talked about – with Consultants available for the rare emergency whilst the model develops – will ensure patients are safe.

– Dr Sue Fish, Medical Director, Hywel Dda University Health Board


Minister confirms move to centralise specialist neonatal care in Hywel Dda Health Board area

Health Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed proposals to restructure specialist neonatal care in West Wales.

  • A Level 2 Neonatal Unit is established at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.
  • 'Midwifery-led' obstetric and maternity services at Bronglais and Withybush hospitals.
  • Consultant obstetric support to remain at Withybush until the new model is established.
  • A 'phased introduction' for the plans.

Teams based at Glangwili would provide 24/7 emergency care across the entire Health Board area.

The changes come after a panel of experts concluded the restructure would 'provide an improved service for mothers and babies'.

The panel has set out a number of important provisos and recommend a phased introduction of the new model. These include robust ‘safety net’ arrangements to provide midwives with skilled assistance in the event of an unexpected emergency. There must also be robust emergency transfer arrangements, and the midwife-led units must be developed according to strict guidelines.

– Mark Drakeford AM, Health Minister

An independent evaluation of the impact of the revised services will also be carried out in twelve months time.

Read Rob Osborne's blog: the case for and against

  1. Rob Osborne, Health Reporter

Decision time for neonatal services in West Wales: the case for and against

Babies needed specialist care might no longer be treated at Withybush

What happens when you can't fill a work rota? Maybe there's a few extra tasks to pick up or somebody is called in as temporary cover. Those solutions are fine for an office but for a hospital it's a lot more complex.

In some highly complex areas like neonatal care, vacancies are not uncommon and it puts pressure on trainee doctors. There is demand for doctors to work at night in one hospital, not spread over different locations.

A proposed solution in West Wales has been to move services for the most complex births away from Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest to Glangwili Hospital around 30 miles away. Later today the Health Minister is expected to endorse those plans.

How you view this depends on which side of the fence you sit. Hospital managers believe it move would provide better and safer care. Opponents say it would endanger lives. The health board - Hywel Dda has said some maternity services would remain at the hospital.

In making his decision Mark Drakeford is likely to point at expert advise he has received but protesters are highly unlikely to accept it. The threat of legal action from campaigners hang over this decision. Today is unlikely to be the end of the story.

Minister to approve changes to specialist baby services

The Health Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to approve plans to change specialist baby services in Haverfordwest later.

The Hywel Dda Health Board wants to move special care away from Withybush hospital to another 30 miles away.

The health board says that changes are needed in order to provide a safe level of care.

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