I share the concerns of people in Aberconwy who have contacted me about the removal of doctor-led maternity care at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and on Friday 13th February I wrote to the Chair of Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board as follows:
Dear Dr Higson
A number of Aberconwy residents have raised issues with me with regard to the future of maternity services at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. Having read the report to the Board I share their concerns and have a number of questions which I feel still need to be answered:
- What has happened to the robust business case requested by the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, in May last year, for the sub-regional neo-natal intensive care centre and why has it not come to fruition? The apparent lack of action on this is contributing significantly to the widespread public distrust that the change to maternity services is only temporary.
- If north Wales is not able to support three consultant-led maternity units now, why does the Board believe it will be able to in 12-18 months’ time? Where is the plan for ensuring this will be possible and how will removing services in the meantime help recruitment? I can see no evidence of any such advance planning in the Board report which can only increase public distrust that consultant-led maternity services will return to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.
- If obstetric and gynaecology services at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd are so unsafe, why will services continue to be provided there until April of this year? Alternatively why can the unit not be staffed with locums in the intervening period? Given the lack of capacity referred to at the Countess of Chester and the Wirral, how will cutting back capacity provide a better solution than the status quo with contingency arrangements in place?
- What analysis has been undertaken on how many births which currently take place at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd are high risk and therefore women would only have the choice of Ysbyty Gwynedd, the Wrexham Maelor or the Countess of Chester; and what is the implication for the women involved in terms of where ante-natal appointments would take place and travel time and cost for them and their families?
- How many women with low risk pregnancies, who currently deliver at YGC would be expected to become high risk during the delivery and therefore need to transfer and what are the expected transfer times and likely impacts?
- I would have expected a case load distribution forecast and statistics in the Board report to outline how the interim arrangements would provide for north Wales’ mothers.
- The implication of the Board report is that the impact on the ambulance service is not yet fully assessed. What assessment has taken place? In addition what contingency arrangements are there if the A55 was closed for any reason.
- Given that the only hospital in north Wales with another maternity unit in close proximity is the Wrexham Maelor (with the Countess of Chester) was removing consultant-led care from the Maelor considered as an option?
- Why was this decision made at very short notice with no consultation with staff or the public – again a criticism that was made of the previous decision regarding neo-natal care.
- Why hasn’t the Board planned in advance for the changes that the Deanery require and what attempts have been made to reach an appropriate agreement with the Deanery to support maternity healthcare services adequately in north Wales
I will be copying these questions to the First Minister, Health Minister and Deputy Health Minister.
Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Aberconwy
Ymgeisydd Seneddol Y Blaid Lafur dros Aberconwy
Dr Higson has acknowledged my letter and promised a full response. I have also copied the letter and spoken to the First Minister, Carwyn Jones about my concerns, which I had raised with the Deputy Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, on Thursday when he was in north Wales (see photo below).
I’ve already been approached with some additional questions, and if you have more do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org . I have also received a response from Dr Higson – please email me if you would like to receive a copy.