Care of seriously ill premature babies in Wrexham could be moved to the Wirral under new proposals announced today.
Whilst Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s special baby care unit appears to have been saved, neo-natal intensive care, including for babies more than 16 weeks premature, would move to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.
With the changes also set to apply to Glan Clwyd Hospital it is estimated that the care of 30-40 babies will be affected by the move per year.
The proposals were announced at a special meeting of the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board in St Asaph this morning.
Other proposals that will affect local healthcare include the decision to shut Llangollen Community Hospital completely and to take away the minor injuries unit from Chirk Community Hospital.
The project board has also suggested consolidating emergency gynaecology and major elective gynaecology at Ysbyty Gwynedd and Wrexham Maelor.
North Wales Assembly Member Llyr Gruffydd has condemned the decision to move neonatal intensive care services to the Wirral, he said: “There have been concerns for a number of years about plans to downgrade and centralise Special Care Baby Units in Wrexham and Glan Clwyd. I have supported the huge campaigns at a grassroots level against any such moves but it seems the NHS in Wales is about to undergo a huge upheaval.
“Plaid Cymru wants to see a better NHS, but I have yet to see any evidence that the agenda of downgrading and centralisation being pushed by the Health Minister is going to deliver that.
“If we take the example of special care for new-born babies, we currently have neonatal intensive care cots in both Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Wrexham Maelor that enable both hospitals to provide specialist care as close as possible to the community. Having that kind of specialist care close at hand is hugely reassuring for parents.
“The proposals being mooted by the health board, with the support of the Welsh Government who argue that ‘change is inevitable’, could see that specialist neonatal intensive care being moved across the border and a great distance from families and friends. It will also mean nursing staff remaining in Wales being deskilled and, over time, less able to cope with the emergencies that may arise on the unit. Transferring a critically ill child 45 minutes in an ambulance is not done lightly.
“It could be argued that this will increase dangers for newborn children rather than reduce it.”