- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Joyce Watson AM has pressed the Welsh Government for answers, following yesterday’s announcement that plans to centralise special care for babies born in west Wales are to go ahead.
As part of Hywel Dda health board’s reorganisation proposals, a Level 2 Neonatal Unit will be established at Glangwili Hospital, Carmarthen, while the special care baby unit at Withybush hospital in Haverfordwest will close.
At the National Assembly, immediately after health minister Mark Drakeford’s statement, Mrs Watson spoke of her personal experience of being rushed to hospital for the delivery of her youngest son.
Speaking after the debate, Mrs Watson commented:
“The most troubling fact to come to light is that, according to the letter sent to the health minister by the scrutiny panel, there has been no meaningful discussion between Hywel Dda and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board’s about the future provision of neonatal care at Morriston.
“Since the whole thrust of the argument to close the level 1 neonatal care unit at Withybush is predicated on delivering level 2 at Glangwili, it is shocking that Hywel Dda does not know what the plans are for Morriston, as it has a huge bearing on the future of Glangwili.”
The Labour Mid and West AM, a resident of Haverfordwest, has today written to the health minister to outline her concerns and ask further questions about the proposals. Here is the letter:
Mark Drakeford AM
Minister for Health and Social Services
22 January 2014
Further to your statement on 21 January regarding health service changes in the Hywel Dda Health Board area, would you answer a number of questions on issues that need clarification.
1. Will you provide a timeline for the phased introduction of a level 2 neonatal unit at Glangwili General Hospital, Carmarthen?
2. Given the historic difficulty that Hywel Dda LHB has had in recruiting specialists, will you outline what support the Welsh Government will provide to the board in attracting suitably qualified staff to the new level 2 unit?
3. There are proposals for a level 2 neonatal unit at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, which could attract mothers from eastern Carmarthenshire. Given the relatively small distance between the this unit and Glangwili, the expert panel raised questions about the sustainability of a future level 2 unit at Glangwili. Will you provide a guarantee that the Glangwili unit will not be put at risk in the event of a new level 2 unit at Morriston?
4. Will you provide a timeline for the introduction of a reliable 24/7 emergency medical retrieval service and the Cymru Inter Hospital Neonatal Transfer Service (CHANTS) (or appropriate alternative service)? Furthermore, would you clarify how the reliability of the service will be judged?
5. What assessment has been made of the risks to mother and baby due to land-based transport infrastructure between Carmarthen and Pembrokeshire?
6. In terms of the proposed midwifery led unit at Withybush General Hospital, Haverfordwest, will you outline the meaning of “safety net”? Will the safety net include a qualified and experienced duty obstetrician?
7. Notwithstanding questions 4, 5 and 6, will you provide a timeline for the introduction of the midwifery led unit at Withybush?
8. How will you be monitoring the implementation of the service change proposals by Hywel Dda LHB and ensuring that the board follows the recommendations made by the panel?
9. What further work will you do as the health minister to reassure the public that these changes are in the best interest to patients throughout the Hywel Dda area?
I look forward to a prompt response to these questions.
Joyce Watson AM/AC