A lack of paediatric consultants may reduce the opening hours of a children's unit at Withybush Hospital by four hours a day.
Hywel Dda health board will discuss the changes to the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU), which would see children travelling to Carmarthen for care outside the new times.
The health board say almost 75% of children referred to the hospital are treated there, and do not need to be referred on. PACU provides care for children with sudden onset of pain, high temperatures, sickness, infections, or requirements for dressings, blood tests, x-rays or scans.
Difficulties in recruiting paediatric consultants across the UK as well as the retirement of one Pembrokeshire consultant, and the maternity leave of another, have been named as reasons for the proposals.
Doctors and nurses have been included in discussions with management at the hospital to work out how best to serve children and families in Pembrokeshire.
The health board say their attempts at recruiting new consultants, as well as locum and agency staff, has been unsuccessful, and “creates the risk of an unsafe, unreliable and fragile service.”
The plan for the PACU at Withybush Hospital is for it to continue being open for twelve hours a day, 7 days a week. However, in order to do this, Hywel Dda are considering changes to the unit’s opening hours, which would see the unit close at 6pm rather than 10pm.
The health board say they will reduce the impact on families as much as possible.
This includes provision of a dedicated ambulance vehicle for transfers between Withybush and Glangwili hospitals, provision of funded transport schemes, help under the NHS Travel Costs scheme and, in some circumstances, vulnerable families will be provided with a paid for taxi to return home.