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Judicial review into hospital shake-up plans

A number of protests have been held this year over changes to healthcare services across Wales Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

A judicial review gets underway today into a decision to downgrade A&E services at the Prince Phillip Hospital in Llanelli.

It comes after campaigners called on the High Court in Cardiff to look into how the decision was made.

The decision to close the neonatal unit at Withybush Hospital in Pembrokeshire will also be reviewed.

Hywel Dda Health Board's decision to restructure specialist neonatal care earlier this year, led to protests.

Local people say they're concerned that premature babies would have to leave the county and travel to Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.

Read more: Shake-up for specialist neonatal services in West Wales

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'HERO' technology could 'save the lives' of premature babies.

In the next 10 years 20 more babies could survive Credit: PA

Doctors at Singleton Hospital in Swansea believe a new piece of technology will save the lives of the most vulnerable premature babies.

Called HERO for short, the Heart Rate Observation System alerts doctors and nurses to the risks of a baby becoming ill in the next 24 hours by checking his or her heart rate.

The system checks for loss of variations in the baby's heart rate and then presents a score to clinicians every hour with the likelihood of the child becoming ill in the next 24 hours.

It's the first time anywhere in the country the computer has been used for this purpose.

Clinicians believe in the next decade around 20 more babies will survive because of the tool.

AMs join forces on neonatal plans

A Labour and a Conservative AM have joined forces to push for a intensive baby care centre to be based at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan. Ann Jones and Darren Millar have put aside political differences to welcome the First Minister's decision to develop a neonatal care centre in North Wales.

The intervention overturns plans by Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board to send all seriously ill babies to Arrowe Park on the Wirral. Carwyn Jones says the new centre will treat the 'vast majority' of sick babies with the worst cases still treated in Cheshire.

Ysbyty Glan Clwyd is one of two possible locations along with Wrexham's Maelor Hospital. A decision's expected early next year. Ann Jones and Darren Millar have issued this joint statement:

This announcement is very welcome indeed and we will now be working hard to ensure that the new enhanced Neonatal Intensive Care Centre is based at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

We feel it?makes sense for the Centre to be in Bodelwyddan given the excellent accommodation for families of sick babies provided by Ty Croeso Dawn Elizabeth House; the accessibility of the hospital from the A55; and its location in the? heart of North Wales.

Whilst the decision represents a victory for North Wales, the First Minister still needs to make a decision about the location of the centre – which could end up in either Bodelwyddan or Wrexham.

We feel that Ysbyty Glan Clwyd is the perfect site and will be pressing for the First Minister to opt for this location.

– Ann Jones AM & Darren Millar AM

Neonatal care decision 'vindicates' campaign say Tories

The Welsh Conservatives have welcomed the First Minister's announcement of a neonatal care centre for North Wales. But they say it should be established as soon as possible.

Communities across north Wales deserve an end to their uncertainty and this report goes some way to achieving that.

It is now crucially important that each of its recommendations is implemented swiftly – and in full.

A cross-party campaign long warned that axing long-term neonatal care in the region was dangerous – a view supported by health professionals and clinicians. Today this campaign has been vindicated.

Communities have been left in limbo for far too long and a site for a new centralised centre for neonatal care must now be identified as soon as possible.

– Darren Millar AM, Shadow Health MInister

Vulnerable baby care plans for the north criticised

Plaid Cymru has criticised the First Minister's announcement on plans for treating babies born in North Wales who need extra care. Carwyn Jones said he'd listened to advice and would develop a centre in the region. But the most serious cases would still be treated on the Wirral.

Plaid's Llyr Gruffydd says that means relying on the English health service the First Minister has criticised:

The Labour government’s plans mean that our most vulnerable babies will be sent to the NHS in England that the First Minister has been so critical of. Plaid Cymru has always made the case for the retention of these life-saving services in North Wales, and for north Wales to maintain this level of expertise.

Unfortunately the Welsh Government has dragged its feet and failed to act on the warnings that the service has become unsustainable, and as a result the people of north Wales have lost this important service. It’s now becoming clear that the defining characteristic of the First Minister’s leadership is that he doesn’t want any responsibility.

– Llyr Gruffydd AM, Plaid Cymru

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'Vast majority' of ill babies to be treated in North Wales

First Minister Carwyn Jones has announced plans to develop a new centre in North Wales to treat babies who need extra care. But he told AMs the most ill babies would still be sent to Arrowe Park on the Wirral for specialist treatment.

He also explained to AMs why he was rejecting proposals in an independent report to treat all babies needing extra care in the north.

Neonatal care centre for North Wales announced

The First Minister says steps will be taken to ensure there will be a neonatal care centre in North Wales in the future. Carwyn Jones says he's listened to independent advice on controversial health board plans to move neonatal services to Arrowe Park on the Wirral.

But he told AMs that Arrowe Park will continue to be used for specialist care even in the long term. Carwyn Jones said that a site will be chosen for a new neonatal care centre and announced shortly.

Detailed information on financial costings, population analysis, linked services as well as discussions with Cheshire and Merseyside NHS Trusts will now need to take place. We have to ensure the decision on the location of the SuRNICC is based on a robust and complete business case.

I will therefore be establishing an independent panel to work with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to develop that business case and recommend to me the best site for the location of the centre, along with the implications for the remaining sites and other interdependent services.

My officials are in the process of establishing the panel and I have asked for recommendations to be made to me by the beginning of March.

– First Minister, Carwyn Jones AM

First Minister: Neonatal care must be sustainable

First Minister Carwyn Jones has been telling AMs why he has asked experts in neonatal care to advise him on whether North Wales could have a 'fully self sufficient' service of its own. But the Welsh Liberal Democrats claim that the review is being sabotaged.

North Wales AM Aled Roberts said Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board wants to transfer facilities from Wrexham Maelor Hospital, though Welsh Government sources say that won't be allowed to happen whilst the review is taking place.

And the Shadow Health Minister, Darren Millar, said that instead of an end to uncertainty, it was 'yet another review and a further delay' in decision making by the First Minister.

Carwyn Jones took responsibility for the decision because his previous health minister, Lesley Griffiths, is AM for Wrexham and had a potential conflict of interest over services at her local hospital.

Report 'by September' on future of neonatal care in North Wales

First Minister Carwyn Jones has announced that the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health will review whether North Wales can eventually become 'fully self sufficient' in the delivery of specialised neonatal services. At present the sickest babies are treated in England.

Mr Jones had already said that plans for a formal arrangement with Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral must go ahead as an interim solution but he was asked if proposals to move other neonatal care from Wrexham to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd could be delayed so that options for the future were left open.

Will you say to Betsi [Cadwaladr University Health Board] can they put their ... plans on hold until the report and the decision has been made?

– Antoinette Sandbach

I will give thought to that ... I can see that ... any change in neonatal provision may have an affect on the review.

– Carwyn Jones, First Minister

A Welsh Government source has since confirmed that nothing affecting neonatal care in Wrexham, Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor should change until the outcome of the review is known. The First Minister expects to receive the report in September.

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