Baby unit will stay in north Wales
First Minister Carwyn Jones has been challenged to provide a long-term plan to develop high-quality neonatal services in North Wales.
Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd said today’s announcement that a neonatal centre of excellence would be located in Glan Clwyd was an embarrassing u-turn after the government had approved moving neonatal intensive care to Arrowe Park last year.
Llyr Gruffydd said: “Neonatal staff and families have had two years of uncertainty due to poor management from both health board and the Cardiff Labour Government over neonatal care in North Wales. The consultation ignored clinicians, who wanted to retain intensive care for newborn babies in the North, as well as those most directly affected - the parents.
“The move to Arrowe Park sparked huge protests and forced the First Minister to commission this review after he had endorsed the original decision. This embarrassing climbdown, which means that a centre of excellence is being established in the North, has only happened because of local campaigning.
"This should never have happened and the First Minister owes North Wales an apology for his government’s dithering.
“Now we need to end the uncertainty once and for all. There are many caveats in this statement and the First Minister should give assurances on funding to meet the recommendations in this report.
“We need a commitment from this government to build the expertise to provide a high-quality neonatal service for the North that takes into consideration our geographical and transport challenges.
"That commitment has to be a long-term one – to ensure we have specialist doctors and advanced neonatal nurse practitioners trained up to do the job. This, we were told, will take 10 years and need coordination with the Deanery.
“We also need guarantees that there will be investment in infrastructure, for example improving the ambulance service to transport babies more effectively. "Will the First Minister provide that commitment?"
* There was also a response to the announcement from North Wales Lib Dem Assembly Member Aled Roberts.
He said: “Naming the location is one thing, but people in North Wales need assurances regarding both the staffing levels and the timeline for implementation.
“Sadly, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has historically failed to provide proper staffing levels within neo-natal units. Such failings can’t be allowed to continue. It’s essential that we are shown evidence that staffing levels will finally be addressed.
“Having made the decision on a new neonatal intensive care centre the Welsh Labour Government must now ensure the Health Board has robust plans in place to ensure the issue of recruitment is tackled. The long term aim must be to develop a centre of real excellence so that the most vulnerable infants can be treated in North Wales.”