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Pembrokeshire Maternity Ward To Close Amid Row

A Maternity Ward At A Hospital In Pembrokeshire Will Close Amid A Row About Care In The Area


Staff at the Withybush Hospital in Pembrokeshire, Wales, have been told the unit's maternity ward will close by March 2014.

All acute paediatric cases could be transferred from the Haverfordwest facility to an institution in Carmarthen, BBC Wales has learned.

While nurses and doctors were told of the plan last week, it is believed this move has been something that the local Hywel Dda Health Board has been planning for a number of months as part of an attempt to cut the area's budget.

NHS Wales has been told by the Senedd that it must cut costs over the coming years or face sanctions that could involve the loss of trust status, or moves into administration.

While midwifery-led services at Withybush Hospital will remain, all complex births and complications will be dealt with by other institutes, something that could worry parents who face difficulties in the days and hours before they have their baby.

Consultant obstetrician Chris Overton told BBC Wales that Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford should intervene with Hywel Dda Health Board's decision in order to "end this madness".

A statement by the under-fire health board read: "Whilst we [previously said we] would make every effort to retain acute paediatrics on two sites in the south, should this not be possible, we would revert to a single site model in Glangwili.

"We will be submitting our proposed models to the Welsh government in the next few weeks but until we are confident that they meet the necessary standards, we will continue the discussions with our clinicians."

News of the end to the treatment of complex births in the area comes after South Pembrokeshire Hospital's Minor Injury Unit closed earlier this month.

Patients in the area were told they must now have treatment carried out by their local GP and that there will no longer be a walk-in service available.

The Hywel Dda Health Board also added that anyone with an ongoing complaint should try visiting a pharmacy, as they may be able to provide a solution.

Expert Opinion
Any ward closure as a result of budget cuts is a concern and can cause a great deal of worry for local residents who are left wondering where they should go should they need treatment.

“This is particularly so when a parent faces a complex birth or their newborn suffers complications. They understandably want peace of mind that they will have access to the best possible care and facilities as quickly as possible.

“Moving all acute paediatric cases away from the Withybush Hospital raises questions as to whether babies will be treated fast enough should the worst happen and what measures will be put in place to ensure a safe transfer.

“The Government and local health Trusts must be fully confident that patient safety and care standards will not be compromised and provide reassurance to local residents on this so faith in local health services is not lost.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner