More premature babies are set to move from North Wales to England to receive treatment in a step widening earlier plans.
Betsi Cadwalar University Health Board documents, which have been sent to Wrexham.com and pictured below, show that the planned transfer of babies under 27 weeks to Arrowe Park could take place from February 23rd. However now things appear to be going a step further with some babies born eight weeks prematurely could be heading to the Wirral from March.
Currently two hospitals in North Wales provide specialist neonatal care, namely Glan Clwyd hospital in Bodelwyddan and Wrexham Maelor hospital. The move to Arrowe Park means those using Wrexham’s service now face the 35 mile journey.
Listed below is a table showing the planned transfer of babies under 27 weeks old. The document also shows that babies between 27 and 28 weeks born in Bangor of Glan Clywd will be transferred to the Maelor hospital in Wrexham.
In one of the documents shown to Wrexham.com, it states that from 23rd February 2014, all babies born at 26+6 weeks or less will be transferred into the ‘Cheshire-Merseyside Neonatal network’.
For babies at gestations / 27 weeks, services would continue as usual in the units based at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Gwynedd.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales said: ““When the decision was made by the now discredited Betsi Cadwaladr board to move neonatal intensive care for babies under 27 weeks to Arrowe Park in the Wirral, we were assured this was because this hospital would provide safer and more sustainable care.
“Now we see that babies up to 32 weeks could be sent from Ysbyty Gwynedd to Glan Clwyd, Wrexham or onwards to Arrowe Park. This is a significant change of plan by the health board that has not been scrutinised at any level. I’m not even sure the Health Minister is aware of these proposals, which will have a significant bearing on where future specialist baby care services are delivered in the North.
“The documents we’ve seen also make it clear that, with trainee neonatal doctors pulling out of Ysbyty Glan Clwyd from March 3, the only special care baby unit with full capacity in the North will be Wrexham. Even there, we have seen a reduction in neonatal intensive care cots.
“I fear we are seeing a stealthy but steady erosion of neonatal care across North Wales, with babies and parents facing increasingly long journeys for what was provided locally. Plaid Cymru warned that centralising intensive care for the sickest babies in England was the thin end of the wedge and now we’re seeing that come to pass.
“I would challenge the health board and the Cardiff Labour Government to come clean on its plans for neonatal care in the North. They have treated us like some forgotten outpost, ignored the very real geographic challenges we face and expect us to put up with a much reduced service.
“Their over-reliance on the Cheshire-Merseyside Neonatal Network to deliver a service in Arrowe Park now sees babies facing further travel to Liverpool, Southport or even further afield. Is that ‘safe and sustainable’ as the First Minister once claimed? This eastwards drift of our health care will put new-born babies at greater risk and is of great concern to myself and many parents who have experienced excellent care locally.”