Friday, 28 December 2012

Arrowe Park maternity unit "not viable" without Welsh babies

The decision to move neonatal intensive care from hospitals in North Wales to Arrowe Park on the Wirral was always one of the more absurd elements of the NHS changes being proposed by Betsi Cadwaladr health board.
 It is now backfiring in spectacular fashion. Not only has there been a huge backlash among the public, but the failings of Arrowe Park have been mercilessly exposed by Plaid Cymru.
 Now comes a damning internal letter from the nurse in charge of Arrowe Park's maternity services, in which she says:

• The service being offered by Arrowe Park is below standard
• The unit is losing "customers" to other units because of this
• The unit is not viable with fewer than 3000 births per year.

 The local newspaper says:
"A four-page letter which had been sent to all midwives, medical and nursing staff by Linda Birch, lead nurse at Arrowe Park Hospital’s women and children's division, and raises deep concerns of “worrying trends” in care given to maternity patients.
The letter states: "The standard of care we are giving to our patients is not good enough and is deteriorating."
Among issues raised are concerns over record-keeping, "rude" staff, lack of privacy and dignity for patients, storage of medication and poor communications between patients and midwives.
A graph contained in the document shows the number of patients has fallen from 300 bookings per month in January, 2011, to 245 a month – representing fewer than 3,000 births per year.
The letter discloses the unit is losing patients to other maternity services providers "because we are rude to them, we are not giving them what they need".
And, shockingly, it warns: "At less than 3,000 births, our unit is not financially viable."
The hospital is now facing an independent inquiry due to report back in 2013.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for North Wales, has led the campaign to retain neonatal services in North Wales. He said:

"News of poor standards of care at the Arrowe Park maternity unit will not bring any comfort to people in North Wales who could be facing the long trip there if Betsi Cadwaladr's board presses ahead with its plans.
 "The hospital's own managers admit that the unit isn't up to standard in terms of care and it makes the decision by managers here in North Wales to move neonatal intensive care there even more questionable. That decision will be made in January and I think now is the time for the board to take a step back, reconsider the evidence and maintain neonatal intensive care here in the North.
 "To move services to a unit that its own manager admits is not viable and is failing would be a dereliction of duty. As it is, I think we have to ask what checks Betsi Cadwaladr made of Arrowe Park before opting for this, rather than listening to the clinical advice.
 "We have an excellent and proven Special Care Baby Unit service here in Glan Clwyd and Wrexham Maelor hospitals. Moving the neonatal intensive care element to Arrowe Park must now be abandoned so that we can continue to have an excellent service within the region."

 The big question is whether Betsi Cadwaladr management conducted a proper investigation into whether Arrowe Park was fit for purpose before making their recommendations. It is becoming apparent that Arrowe Park's financial needs (it proposes to charge £1240 a day for the neonatal cases from Wales - about £1.1m a year) take precedence over the clinical needs of newborn babies.

 • A further twist in the tail is that Betsi Cadwaladr's director of nursing Jill Galvani - who as recently as October 1 was attending consultation meetings to defend the move to Arrowe Park - has now been unveiled as the new director of nursing for the Wirral University Health Trust. This is the Trust that runs Arrowe Park.  


Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Now why would Jill Galvani want to go to a Trust like Wirral which is not a third of the size of the BCU? Seems to me like a bit of a demotion! Is there another stry here?

Anonymous said...

Dread to think what level of rudeness the staff would aspire to if some of the patients had the audacity to speak Welsh.