Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Resist the health cuts - have your say

Monday sees the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board roadshow roll into Wrecsam. Sessions take place at the Catrin Finch Centre at Glyndwr University at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm.
Places are limited but you can still register by calling 0800 678 5297 to book a place.
 Unless we speak out now, vital local services will be lost in terms of community hospitals and the neonatal intensive care for sick babies.
  The planned closure of Llangollen and Flint hospitals together with downgrading services in Mold and Chirk will put greater pressure on Accident and Emergency and general wards in Wrecsam Maelor Hospital. Patients who would have been moved out of acute beds after operations to community hospitals will now be forced to stay in Wrecsam or be shunted off to private nursing homes to recuperate.
 The deception regarding neonatal intensive care is more fundamental. Consultations have been told that the proposal to move seriously ill babies to Arrowe Park in the Wirral is because Level 3 Special Care Baby Units in North Wales don't meet "national" guidelines. It is only with reluctance that Betsi bureaucrats have admitted that neither does Arrowe Park.
In fact Arrowe Park has only been a Level 3 unit since 2007 and only has four Intensive Care Unit cots. Wrecsam currently has four ICU cots and Glan Clwyd has six.
If the proposed switch takes place, Arrowe Park managers have said they have the space and capacity to double the number of cots to eight. Is this going to be enough to compensate for the lost cots, not to mention the expertise of nursing staff?
  The planned move to Arrowe Park is, in fact, a return to the 1980s when sick babies were routinely moved to Liverpool Women's Hospital from North Wales. Far from improving the service, Betsi bureaucrats want to take us back in time. To make matters worse, staffing ratios at Arrowe Park are worse than those in our hospitals. Currently, ICU cots are monitored on a 1:1 basis here while in   Arrowe Park one nurse cares for two ICU babies at a time.
 The unit has seen 10 babies die in the first eight months of this year.
The cost of this switch is at least £1m a year with another estimated £600,000 to be added on for transport costs annually. This is Welsh NHS money going on a service in England that is currently being provided here. For this privilege Arrowe Park managers are planning to charge a cool £1240 a day per baby - £216 more than it currently charges. Of course, once the contract is signed the charges can only go one way.
  It's such an outrageous plan that you have to wonder whether it's been put out there for Betsi management to be seen to bow to public pressure after the consultation and relocate a single neonatal intensive care unit for the North at Glan Clwyd.


All our Labour politicians have gone to ground regarding these cuts. It's not surprising that Lesley Griffiths supports the plans - she has laid the groundwork for this agenda by saying the status quo is not an option. But what about our local MPs? Ian Lucas and Susan Elan Jones. Silent. Ken Skates AM. Silent. Council leader Neil Rogers. Silent and unwilling to allow councillors to even debate changes that will have far-reaching effects on their communities.

I agree with Lesley that the status quo is not an option. We need to see our NHS improve and be creative in dealing with increasing demands from a population that is living longer.
 But Betsi Cadwaladr management has failed to do its job in ensuring sufficient clinical staff to do the job required, to plan for a model that serves this community rather than one that is imposed on it and to ensure better care for patients.
 It's time to change the management not centralise and downgrade key local health services.

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