North Wales’s Liberal Democrat AM Aled Roberts believes that Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s decision to downgrade maternity services at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd should be referred to the Welsh Health Minister. He has also urged the Health Board not to implement any changes in other services until they have published and consulted on their plan for hospital services in North Wales.
North Wales’s Liberal Democrat AM Aled Roberts believes that Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s decision to downgrade maternity services at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd should be referred to the Welsh Health Minister.
He has also urged the Health Board not to implement any changes in other services until they have published and consulted on their plan for hospital services in North Wales.
”As long ago as 2011Betsi Cadwaladr’s Health Board announced that they needed to change maternity services,” explained Aled Roberts. “And at that time the Board promised to consult widely on any resulting plans, but it never happened.
”In defending their decision to downgrade maternity services at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd without any consultation, they rely on a report which goes back to April 2014. If the dangers were known then, why didn’t they start a consultation process immediately?
”The Betsi Board has raised the issue of imminent rota changes as a justification to axe temporarily doctor-led maternity services at Glan Clwyd but these were originally due to be introduced in August last year – so why didn’t the Board take action then?
”Last week’s decision is indicative of a Health Board that fails to plan strategically and then relies on emergency processes to rush through changes without consultation.
”The failure to take action in the past is matched by a failure to think through the implications of a decision which appears to have been taken in panic.
“Were members of staff in Wrexham Maelor and Gwynedd Hospitals consulted about this decision by the Board? There are not the facilities or the staff at these two hospitals to cope with an influx of up to 3000 pregnant women over the next 12 to 18 months.
”Given that time is often crucial in securing a successful birth, did the Board consider how safe it would be relying on an already overstretched ambulance service when a mother at Glan Clwyd needs to be seen by a doctor in an emergency? And how difficult will it be for families to bond with a new child when they may be based over an hour away given the costs and time needed.
“What the Board really need to explain however is the impact of their decision on the future of the Regional Neo-natal Centre at Glan Clwyd. If they’re telling us that they can’t get doctors to apply for jobs at Glan Clwyd now, how will they get them to do so when they have downgraded the service in the lead period?
”I welcome the decision by the Welsh Government to accept the Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader’s recommendation for a Commission to investigate the NHS in Wales. In the meantime the Welsh Government needs to give the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board some direction. The First Minister decided that the Regional Centre should be based at Glan Clwyd but why has the Welsh Government not pressed the Board to submit plans over the last 19 months? The downgrading of maternity services raises the question in many people’s minds as to whether the Centre will ever go ahead.”