He was asked by a constituent (me): "What are your views on the proposed closures and downgrading of local health services in North Wales, with particular focus on the reduction in level 3 SCBU intensive care services in Wrecsam?"
This was his response:
Thank you for your e-mail.As you know, these matters are devolved to the Welsh Government. However, as a Wrexham resident and parent I am, of course, concerned at any proposals relating to Wrexham Neonatal Services. I have not considered broader health provision across North Wales generally.I note that the Trust itself states: “Our preference would…be to provide services in North Wales if we believed this to be the best option in terms of quality of care, sustainability, recruitment of medical staff and the fulfilment of national standards for neonatal care.” I agree. Ideally, services would, for me, be delivered from Wrexham. However, I note that the Royal College of Midwives do not oppose the proposals and that the Community Health Council has previously said that on balance, they believe that the proposals for neonatal intensive care services will be in interests of people who use services, I regret that some have questioned the impartiality of the CHC and it is sensible to give weight to the views of the experts, the Royal College of Midwives. I am aware from my own experience that increasing specialisation within healthcare is leading to increasing centralisation of services, as skill levels for specialists demand that they focus on a number of patients specified by professional regulatory bodies. It is in the interest of patients and their families that the most skilled and experienced deal with the most difficult cases. If this requires some travel in the most serious cases, then it seems to me that it will be worth it. I note that, as the Trust say : “North Wales will continue to provide the majority of babies and families with specialist care including a restricted volume of intensive care, as agreed by the All Wales and Cheshire & Merseyside Neonatal Networks in our Local Neonatal Units and with the Special Care Units providing some high dependency services. Babies who are cared for in Arrowe Park Hospital will be transferred back to local services as soon as they are clinically stable.” Travel will, therefore, be restricted to a very small number of the most serious cases.I think it is very important that Wrexham people understand this essential point. The whole proposal is directed at a small number of the most serious cases and loose talk about closure of neonatal services clouds not clarifies the issues. I want the best possible care for those children and their families in what is a dreadful situation for them.Yours sincerely, Ian Lucas MP
Two things stand out.
One is his reliance on the "experts", the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). This conveniently ignores the other experts in the Royal College of Nursing and British Medical Association who both oppose the move. Unfortunately for Mr Lucas, so does the RCM - they were incorrectly quoted by the health board as being in favour.
So, if Mr Lucas thinks it "sensible to give weight to the views of the experts, the Royal College of Midwives" then it would be sensible to oppose the move.
It's worrying that my MP is not sufficiently aware of a key issue in his own constituency to know who is supporting and who is opposing.
Secondly, Mr Lucas is not usually so reticent in commenting on devolved matters. After all, local councils are devolved and I'm sure he has plenty to say about our Labour council's recent decisions to cut funding for Kerbcraft, increase top salaries and spend £30,000 on a failed one-way system under Stansty Bridge.