Withybush fight's not over, vow campaigners
9:00am Saturday 26th January 2013 in Milford Mercury news
Local campaigners have vowed to fight on after last week’s announcement that Pembrokeshire will lose its Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and Minor Injury Services.
Following a long period of consultation, Hywel Dda Health Board announced and approved its recommendations for changes to health services across west Wales at an extraordinary board meeting on Tuesday.
Withybush Hospital’s SCBU will be closed and services moved to Carmarthen under plans to develop a complex obstetric unit, neonatal level two unit and high-dependency paediatric unit.
In-patient paediatric services, stabilisation, resuscitation and consultant obstetric services will be retained at Withybush.
Antenatal care will continue to be provided locally across the three counties, even for those mothers identified as having high-risk pregnancies, to check that they are progressing safely.
Community Health Council (CHC) chairman Tony Wales called it a “disappointing day” for patients, the public and the CHC, which he said, had been ignored.
Mr Wales questioned the integrity of the entire consultation process, saying it appeared the public had been “hoodwinked”.
Director of clinical services, Dr Phil Kloer, said retaining the status quo and equal provision at the three main hospitals was not possible.
“This has been a very, very difficult decision for us in terms of taking into account, in particular, training rotas and sustainability.
“If we maintain paediatric rota at Withybush and consultant obstetrics and paediatrics we still have the facility to look after babies if they become ill on the Withybush site,” he added.
A clinically-led implementation programme was approved and Mr Martin said that Withybush consultant Martin Simmonds would be involved. Dr Sue Fish said the first meeting was scheduled for February 1st.
Hywel Dda chairman Chris Martin said: “Services have to be safe, sustainable and affordable, and a threecounties solution. No change is not an option.
“Aspiring for mediocrity is not good enough, we need to aspire for excellence.”
He said the future of the four main hospitals was secure.
“The National Clinical Forum would like to see a two-hospital model but we argue the recommendations are right for our rural communities.
“This is the most difficult decision we have had to make as a health board in managing expectations and getting the best outcomes for Hywel Dda.”
All plans will now go through an implementation programme, with discussion with clinical staff, and no changes will be made until they are judged safe. The board is working on a three to five-year framework.
The full recommendation report, and other resources, can be found at www.hywelddahb.wales.nhs.