Changes to hospital services and cuts to public spending are amongst the subjects looked at in this week's Sharp End
A mother tells the tragic tale of her little boy who died with a metabolic disease which was not identified until after his death.
Stillbirth is the most common form of child mortality in Wales, with around four babies dying every week.
Labour MP Ann Clwyd says she'll raise complaints sent to her from patients in Welsh hospitals during today's Welsh Grand committee debate. The Cynon Valley MP has been appointed by the Prime Minister to investigate the way patients' concerns are dealt with by hospitals in England.
But she's previously said that many hundreds of the letters and emails she's received are from those who've had difficult experiences in hospitals here in Wales.
Accepting an invitation from his GP for abdominal scan when he turned 65 years old proved to be a life-saving decision for Gordon Lewis.
The retired coal miner from Abercwmboi was found to have a large abdominal aortic aneurysm and within a week of having the scan was undergoing surgery.
The married father of three said, “I didn’t realise that I had anything wrong with me as I had no symptoms and had been feeling fine so when they told me they had found an AAA it was a real shock."
Mr Lewis, who has two grandchildren, made a good recovery from the operation and within six weeks was completely back to normal.
He knows how lucky he was and is determined to encourage other men to take up the offer to the scan.
All men over 65 in Wales will be offered a free test to check for a life-threatening condition called abdominal aortic aneurysm. It's six times more common in men than women and ruptured aneurysms led to 246 deaths in Wales in 2010.
The aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to the body. Sometimes, as people grow older, the wall of the aorta in the abdomen can become weak and stretch to form an aneurysm. When this happens there is a risk that the aorta may split or tear.
– Lylwela Wilson, Head of the Wales AAA Screening Programme
There are no signs and symptoms of having an AAA so most men with one will know nothing about it until it ruptures, and their chances of surviving will sadly be very poor.
The screening programme aims to reduce this risk by providing men with a simple, painless ultrasound scan that will detect whether an AAA is present.
The screening takes only a few minutes but it really could help save your life.
Letters will start being sent out from 1st May 2013 to all eligible men.
Cancer costs the average patient in Wales £640 a month, in lost wages, travel to hospital, new clothes and adaptations to their homes according to the charity Macmillan Cancer Support.
Leeann Stroud of Bridgend says transport costs alone for her mother ran into hundreds each month.
Professor Sailesh Kotecha is a Neonatologist at Cardiff University and believes more research is needed into stillbirths.
He told ITV Wales: "The rate of stillbirths in Wales is somewhere between 4.5 - 5 per thousand births. That means some 170 babies are dying unnecessarily in many cases.
"We can do better. If you look at the rates of stillbirth in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, it's half of what we have here in Wales and the rest of the UK."
The National Assembly's health and social care committee makes nine recommendations in its report, including that the Welsh Government:
- takes an active lead in developing key public health messages as a matter of priority
- works with professional bodies and health boards to ensure that all expectant parents receive adequate information about stillbirth and associated risks
- commissions work on the underlying causes of stillbirth
– Julia Chandler, Royal College of Midwives
It is crucial that we have more continuity of care in maternity services. When women know their midwives they are more likely to be able to discuss difficult issues such as stillbirths. The midwife is also more likely to spot problems developing during the pregnancy.
The Welsh Government says it is working with the NHS to reduce the stillbirth rate and the National Stillbirth Working Group is working as part of the Welsh Initiative for Stillbirth Reduction to improve outcomes in pregnancy.
– Welsh Government spokesperson
Smoking during pregnancy and maternal obesity are avoidable risk factors, and these are being addressed via the Welsh Government's Strategic Vision for Maternity Services in Wales.
Family history and a whole range of other clinical details are part of the clinical review of every stillbirth undertaken by the All Wales Perinatal Survey, and we want data gathering to continue to be as comprehensive as possible to increase our knowledge about avoidable factors.
More could and should be done to reduce the rate of stillbirths in Wales according to the National Assembly's health and social care committee. The committee says the Welsh Government must do more to raise awareness of the stillbirths.
Assembly members found that while neonatal and infant mortality rates have improved over the last 10 years, stillbirth rates have barely changed since the early 1990s. The committee said there is no single remedy, but the Welsh Government needs to concentrate on smalls steps towards improvement.
– Mark Drakeford AM, Health and Social Care Committee chairman
The stillbirth of a child is a tragedy which devastates families. Yet, as a population, our awareness of stillbirth - particularly its causes and what can be done to prevent it - is worryingly low.
As a Committee we are in no doubt that the current rate of stillbirths in Wales can be reduced.
More needs to be done to raise public and professional awareness of stillbirth and the risk factors that contribute towards it.
Greater effort is also needed to understand the underlying causes of stillbirth, particularly with over half of all deaths currently classified as 'unexplained.'