Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Wrecsam's Special Care Baby Unit safe?

Today saw a key meeting regarding the future of maternity services in North Wales, where the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is looking at 9% cuts in spending in the coming year.
The area's hospitals deal with 7,300 births a year - more than any other board area in Wales - and it currently has three neonatal units to deal with sick and premature babies at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Wrecsam Maelor.
Several proposals were put before 200 key interested parties, including service users and staff, at the meeting in Llandudno but the service ticking the most boxes is one that keeps the Special Care Baby Unit in Wrecsam and Gwynedd. That's bad news of course for Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, where a number of staff have been transferred from Wrecsam over the past year in anticipation of the centralising of the service.
If the decision is made to retain the Special Care Baby Unit in Wrecsam, it will be a vindication for the fantastic campaign by local people who know all too well how important that unit has been to them.
Plaid locally fought to retain intensive care cots on SCBU four years ago and has campaigned consistently for local health services. The population of Wrecsam is growing and youthful and there is an important strategic advantage in maintaining services in those two sites - 98% of the population can access them within an hour.
Another important consideration is that closing the unit in Wrecsam would mean mums from the border counties of Flintshire, Wrecsam and Powys looking to Chester and Shrewsbury rather than the difficult 45-minute journey up the A55 to Glan Clwyd. Those babies born in Chester would be at a cost to the NHS in Wales.
NHS bosses still have to make the final decision but the signs are that SCBU in Wrecsam is not being downgraded.

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