Friday, 22 July 2011

Special Care Baby Unit campaign winning the argument

Yesterday saw a series of meetings in Wrecsam on the review of maternity and children's services in North Wales for staff and the public.

The clear message coming from the meeting for the public was that the original plan - to centralise expertise in Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and downgrade Wrecsam to a midwife-led unit - can't be done. I suspect that's because of the strength of opposition from the public and the PR disaster it would be for the new Welsh health minister Lesley Griffiths.

She is currently on the horns of a dilemma - how does she keep the clinicians happy, the NHS accountants happy and her own voters happy? She was issued with a friendly challenge after her election victory on May 6 - maintain the Special Care Baby Unit in Wrecsam with its present speciality or face the political consequences.

The clinical expertise argument cannot outweigh the needs of mums and babies in a geographically diverse area such as North Wales.

The finances of the NHS in Wales would be improved at a stroke by ensuring that more mums from North Wales have their children born here. At present 548 babies a year from the North are born in Chester at an additional cost of £2 million to the Betsi Cadwaladr Trust. Add the increased number of babies from North Powys who will also be attracted to Wrecsam because of a reduction in babies being born across the border in Shrewsbury, and there could be an additional 300 babies (an extra 15% ) born in Wrecsam each year.

Getting rid of SCBU's intensive cots in the town doesn't make sense now and certainly wouldn't in the future with an expanding population.

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