Health Minister to decide on future of services for women and babies at Withybush Hospital

9:01am Tuesday 21st January 2014

HEALTH Minister Mark Drakeford is due to announce his decision on the future of health services for women and babies today (Tuesday).

The Community Health Council had referred Hywel Dda proposals to close the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at Withybush Hospital and create a new level two unit in Carmarthen to the health minister last year.

Mr Drakeford had set up a specialist panel to scrutinise the issues raised which ruled that further information was required in the health board’s plans for obstetric and midwifery services before a decision on neonatal care could be made.

The proposal to close the SCBU at Withybush Hospital and centralise specialist care for babies at Carmarthen has been hugely controversial, sparking protests outside the hospital and on the steps of the Senedd.

Mothers who feared their babies would not have survived had it not been for the Withybush facility have been among those protesting.

Chairman of the Save Withybush Action Team (SWAT) Chris Overton said: “Assuming the health minister is going to say what we think we will have to rely on the judicial review.

“They are saying they will maintain services, and they will stay for a while but will gradually drift east because it is a deck of cards.”

There are also fears that health board changes would see Withybush Hospital left with a mid-wife led unit with all but the lowest risk birth being sent to Carmarthen.

The future of overnight paediatrics and the knock on effect on accident and emergency is also of concern.

SWAT is holding its next demonstration 10am on Sunday, January 26. It is hoped that this will be a demonstration march but if arrangements cannot be made with police a static rally will be held outside the hospital.

More than 600 people attended the last demonstration and it is hoped even more will attend the forthcoming event and those due to be held on a regular basis in the coming months.

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