After months of uncertainty, controversial plans to reduce consultant-led maternity services in north Wales have been scrapped, with the health board unanimously approving plans to retain the services.
Last week Wrexham.com reported that plans to temporarily introduce changes to maternity services at one of three north Wales hospitals had been shelved, with a report recommending that obstetric services at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Gwynedd are retained.
In a meeting today the Health Board accepted the recommendation that there is currently no need to make temporary changes to consultant-led obstetric services in North Wales.
Today’s confirmation follows months of uncertainty for maternity services in north Wales, with many fearing the potential impact a reduction in consultant-led services in any of three hospitals could have.
The decision to retain obstetric services in their current form follows a public consultation which was carried out by the Health Board in August and September of this year. As part of the consultation four options were put forward with regards to maternity services in north Wales: –
Services stay as now and we continue to manage current risks and issues with medical staffing and team working
Temporary change to maternity services at Wrexham Maelor Hospital
Temporary change to maternity services at Ysbyty Gwynedd
Temporary change to maternity services at Glan Clwyd Hospital
The proposals were meant with a public backlash, with campaigns launched to help save the services – including protests, public meetings and an 11,000 strong petition being submitted to the Health Board.
A statement released today by the Health Board notes that the consultation ‘attracted thousands of responses which set out the range of views about our proposals.’
The statement adds: “While the consultation was underway, we also continued with our strenuous efforts to recruit additional staff to the service.
“This has led to the appointment of seven additional consultants, who will provide middle grade on-call cover alongside their consultant-level duties, and the recruitment of 27 midwives which mean our midwifery services meet the recommendations of the Birth Rate Plus national workforce planning tool.
“These new appointments mean that the level of risk in the service has reduced to a point where temporary changes to our consultant-led obstetric services are not necessary. We will have to ask some women to travel to England for elective gynaecological surgery but emergency gynaecological surgery will not be affected.
“Although there is no longer a need for any immediate changes, we must still ensure that women’s and maternity services across north Wales will be stable and sustainable for the long term. We have asked the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to work with us to consider how this can be achieved and we expect to receive their report early next year.
“The information gathered during the recent consultation will help us as we plan for the future. If the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends that substantial changes may be required we will discuss this with the public and, carry out a further consultation exercise.”