Family 'insulted' by Mark Drakeford's claim about 'confusion' over Swansea Bay maternity review

Gethin's parents said "The documents we have state very clearly that a review was required in November 2022". Credit: PA Images / ITV Wales

The parents of a disabled child in Swansea say they are "extremely disappointed and insulted" after the First Minister said there was "confusion" over an inquiry into their son's care.

Robert Channon's son Gethin was born with severe brain damage after complications during his birth at Singleton Hospital in 2019.

An external review of services was carried out by a top UK maternity expert who believed there were serious concerns around Gethin's maternity care.

That then led to Gethin's family calling on the Welsh Government to conduct their own review of services, which it said it would commit to.

The Channon family have previously raised concerns over intimidation and bullying within Swansea Bay University Health Board.

However, freedom of information requests, as well as internal Welsh Government emails, showed that a review of the service at Swansea Bay Health Board has not taken place.

The First Minister has now said that there has been "some confusion" about the inquiry.

Mark Drakeford was answering questions in the Senedd from the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies.

He asked the First Minister if there had been an inquiry into Swansea University Health Board. Mr Drakeford replied, "My understanding [...] is that there has been some confusion over terminology here".

Adding: "There has been work done that has inquired into it, it was carried out under an assurance process rather than an inquiry process".

Andrew RT Davies went on to ask the First Minister if he thought maternity services in Wales are safe.

He replied: "some difficult incidents in the services provided by the board" and that there are "new arrangements which cover the whole of Wales to make sure that services are provided in the best way".

In response to the First Minister's comments, Gethin's parents said "The documents we have state very clearly that a review was required in November 2022, we were told very clearly that a review of serious incidents had taken place. 

"This was not true. 

"We are not confused about the terminology, we are however confused and incredibly concerned about the ongoing apathy at Health Board and Government levels about the safety of mothers and babies in Swansea which even today is not being addressed.

The Welsh Conservatives have called for the Welsh Government to "get their priorities right and tackle this scandal urgently.”

In response to criticism around maternity services, a Swansea Bay Health Board spokesperson told ITV Wales last week: "Maternity services have faced significant staffing pressures over the last few years.

"However, since September the health board has recruited an additional 23 midwives, 21 of whom are already in place with two due to follow in December.

Questions were raised about maternity services at the Singleton Hospital where Gethin Channon was born and elsewhere across the healthboard.

"Also, since early summer we have taken on an additional 13 maternity care assistants to support our midwives.

"We commissioned an independent external report from the Wales Maternity and Neonatal Network in 2022.

"The conclusion to the report stated: “The panel saw evidence of a health board that delivers a culture of patient safety and prioritises opportunities for improvement through reflecting on data and lessons learned through adverse events.

"The health board actively encourages staff to record all incidents, serious or otherwise. More serious incidents are formally investigated.

"However, the majority are categorised as green. This is where no harm has been caused but they are still reviewed to ensure continuous improvement.

"This was identified as good practice in the Wales Maternity and Neonatal Network report."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…