Thursday, 18 April 2013

Closing of Neonatal Intensive Care Services.

At today's meeting of the Education, Safeguarding and Well-Being Scrutiny Committee, Councillors had the opportunity to question senior executives of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board about a variety of concerns that they had regarding the provision of health care in the County Borough. The Health Board team were led by the Acting Chief Executive Geoff Laing and the Director of Public Health for North Wales, Dr Andrew Jones.

One of the questions asked was regarding further changes to Neonatal Services in North Wales:
As part of the consultation into Healthcare is Changing it was proposed that only part of Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care would be transferred from the Maelor and Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. That part was to be the 36 or so babies that were born before 27 weeks. I now understand that the health board have quietly extended the original proposal to now transfer ALL intensive care babies from Wrexham to either Glan Clwyd or Arrowe Park; this would mean an additional 100 babies would have to be transferred from North Wales if they were to go to Arrowe Park. There has been no consultation over such proposals with service users or the Community Health Council and neither has anyone seen the revised business case. Could you please explain how this has come about and why there was no consultation on your new proposals?
In a frank and honest answer Mr Laing admitted that there were plans to locate what remained of Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care at one site rather than the current two sites at Ysbyty Maelor, Wrecsam or Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, Bodelwyddan. Mr Laing refused to be drawn on which site would be closed but I am willing to bet a substantial amount that the unit at Ysbyty Maelor will close thus downgrading the hospital to a Level 2 baby unit consisting of just Special Care and a High Dependancy Unit. Mr Laing claimed the rationale behind this centralisation is in response to demands of the Welsh Deanery to facilitate postgraduate medical training.

I then raised a number of supplementary points of concern namely, the numbers of additional babies that would need transporting to Glan Clwyd and whether the nursing capacity, paediatric ambulances and cot availability, would meet the demand. Despite the changes moving ahead at a pace none of these questions were answered satisfactorily.

When I asked about consultation Mr Laing reassured us that the Community Health Council would be involved in the consultation but there again why consult when the deed is done?

This is yet another example of a lack of openness and transparency in the decisions of the Health Board and I wonder exactly how much the First Minister and Health Minister actually know what the Health Board in North Wales are up to?

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