Healthcare professions unite against reconfiguration plans
4 February 2013
Doctors, nurses and midwives have united in opposition against plans to move neonatal services from north Wales to England.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has agreed to move neonatal care to Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral from Glan Clwyd Hospital and Wrexham Maelor Hospital as part of wider reconfiguration plans.
BMA Cymru Wales, the RCN (Royal College of Nursing) and the RCM (Royal College of Midwives) spoke out last week against the plans.
BMA Welsh secretary Richard Lewis said there was no evidence or suggestion that neonatal services in north Wales were below par, and questioned the move.
He said: ‘There is no accusation that services currently being provided in north Wales are inferior. They are of the highest quality, and compare to anywhere in the UK.
‘There is no concern about services in North Wales. We have considered the issues about funding, and we don’t feel the funding issues stack up.’
Recruitment issues exaggerated
He added: ‘We recognise the issues surrounding recruitment of both medical and nursing staff, but don't believe these pose greater problems in North Wales than elsewhere. The difficulties in recruiting staff, could be compounded by uncertainty surrounding the services for quite some time.'
The three organisations want the health board to reverse the decision, and all have said it is a fight they are willing to take to Welsh health and social services minister Lesley Griffiths.
The Betsi Cadwaladr Community Health Council is considering whether to refer the matter to Ms Griffiths.
A statement by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: ‘More than 760 babies every year will continue to be cared for in special care baby and local neonatal units in north Wales.
‘The decision to treat a small number of babies at Arrowe Park applies to about 36 babies each year who need the most intensive, specialist resources and treatment — for example, babies born under 27 weeks who require specialist respiratory support.
‘The health board took expert advice and opinion from senior clinicians, the British Association of Perinatal Medicine, the National Clinical Forum, and the All-Wales Neonatal Network. They support the view that it is not possible to provide this level of care in north Wales.’
The Betsi Cadwaladr reorganisation will also see result in the closure of four community hospitals and three minor injury units.