Plans to move a specialist neonatal intensive care baby service from Wrexham to the Wirral look likely to go ahead after proposals passed the final hurdle with no referral to the Health Minister.
The care that is currently provided at the Wrexham Maelor and Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan would move to Arrowe Park on the Wirral – which is a 35 mile journey from Wrexham.
Today the Betsi Cadwaladr Community Health Council, which is an independent statutory organisation who’s remit is to “Represent the interests of patients and the public in the National Health Service in North Wales”, said it would not be referring the proposals to the Health Minister – Lesley Griffiths, who is also the AM for Wrexham. The Community Health Council is the only body who has the power in the current processes to refer the decision, thus as they have not, it effectively ‘green lights’ the plan.
We first reported back in July on initial concerns that have born fruit, local and regional objections have grown over several months cumulating on the news (report) on Tuesday that plans are being drawn up to ask for a Judicial Review of the decision.
Responding to the news Aled Roberts, Assembly Member for North Wales, said “I am surprised and shocked by the fact that none of the Health Board’s proposals have been referred to the Health Minister”.
“The Community Health Council is supposed to be there to represent the views of the people of North Wales – it has failed to do that today. This whole process raises serious questions about what is the point of a Community Health Council.”
“There is a serious issue about transparency here. Just last week, North Wales AMs met with members of the Community Health Council and at that time they were not satisfied with the Health Board’s plans to transfer neo-natal services to Arrowe Park. What has happened in the space of a week that has made them change their minds? I urge the Health Council to release the additional evidence that they refer to in their statement and make it available so it can be further scrutinised. It is also imperative that the minutes from their last meeting are made available.”
“In my view, there were sufficient grounds for the Health Council to refer the planned downgrading of our neo-natal services to the Health Minister and I am stunned that they haven’t done so. The Health Council needs to explain why it has come to this decision, as in my opinion, it is completely the wrong one.”
Further practical changes are occuring, with new service opening hours being released last week for North Wales. They revealed that there are only three 24/7 Accident and Emergency that are open for the whole of Anglesey and North Wales:
- Ysbyty Penrhos Stanley, Holyhead (8:00am to 8:00pm from 24th March)
- Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor (24 hour minor injuries and A&E service)
- Ysbyty Alltwen, Tremadog (8:00am to 8:00pm)
- Dolgellau and Barmouth Hospital (8:00am to 8:00pm)
- Llandudno Hospital (8:00am to 10:00pm)
- Glan Clwyd Hospital, Bodelwyddan (24 hour minor injuries and A&E service)
- Denbigh Infirmary (8:00am to 6:00pm, Monday to Friday)
- Holywell Community Hospital (8:00am to 8:00pm)
- Mold Community Hospital (8:30am to 6:00pm)
- Wrexham Maelor Hospital (24 hour minor injuries and A&E service)
Other changes include the closure of four community hospitals, including Llangollen, plus three other units including in Chirk.
UPDATE: Andrew Scotson, from the NHS has been in touch to say:
” There are no plans (and never have been any) to move the neonatal unit from Wrexham. The proposal is for a small number of the most premature babies (born at under 27 weeks gestation) and that require the highest level of neonatal intensive care to have this provided at Arrowe Park.
We estimate that this will affect around 36 babies from across North Wales each year. The vast majority of babies needing the services of our Special Care Baby Unit will continue to receive their care in the Wrexham SCBU, as indeed will those babies initially cared for at Arrowe Park once they are well enough to return to the local unit.”