FUNDING to support changes to women and children’s healthcare services has been announced by the Welsh Government.

A total of £18million for essential equipment and facilities across Wales was announced by the Health Minister Mark Drakeford and Finance Minister Jane Hutt.

They said the money will “ensure the nation’s health service is fit for the challenges of the 21st century”.

In the Hywel Dda area £3milion has been allocated to support neonatal services.

This includes the establishment of a level two neonatal unit, a new obstetric unit and a paediatric high dependency unit at Carmarthen’s Glangwili Hospital, replacing services at Withybush Hospital.

It is also allocated for the creation of two new, purpose-built midwife-led units at Glangwili and Withybush.

A further £1million has been allocated to support a new cross country Emergency and Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service.

“This investment will support the phase one development of an enhanced service that will provide patients who require time-critical treatment with rapid access to the skills of experts in emergency or intensive care medicine, as well as facilitating transfers to hospitals with specialist equipment for limb or life-threatening emergencies; The service is intended to respond to calls 24 hours a day, utilising a range of vehicles,” said a Welsh Government spokesman.

Professor Drakeford said: “This multi-million pound investment clearly demonstrates this government’s commitment to the NHS. It will help bring forward key elements of NHS reconfiguration plans to provide high-quality healthcare in a safe and sustainable manner.

“To do that, we need to ensure our NHS is fit for purpose. This means changing the way the NHS delivers services by providing more care as close to people’s homes wherever possible. But it also means some services for the very sickest patients need to be concentrated, so patients can be cared for by clinicians who are trained to deliver the very best care available.”

Hywel Dda University Health Board: “The new facilities at Glangwili Hospital will include four cots used solely for the purpose of providing extra care to babies nursed alongside their mothers. Previously this extra care has been provided in the special care unit, now these babies will be able to remain alongside their mothers.

“For the first time, a dedicated sick and premature babies special care nursing team will work in the community, visiting homes to support mothers and families to care for their babies at home.

“This new ‘neonatal nurse outreach team’ will provide specialist care to babies which was previously only available at hospital. This will mean that mums and their babies may be able to get home sooner ultimately reducing the length of time a baby needs to stay on a unit, and improve their recovery, whilst being cared for by their family.”