North Wales neonatal care review report in September

Flint protesters
Image caption NHS changes in north Wales have sparked protests

A review into how the NHS provides specialist care for the sickest and most premature babies in north Wales has been announced by First Minister Carwyn Jones.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health will report in September.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) has proposed moving neonatal intensive care to a hospital in the north-west of England.

But opponents said the review would mean more delays.

The health board's plans would mean high level intensive care, which is currently provided at Wrexham Maelor and Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan, would go to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.

The proposal prompted an outcry by AMs from of all parties.

Mr Jones said the review would "consider models for providing a sustainable and compliant neonatal intensive care within north Wales".

He said the work would be carried out by an authoritative and independent team, and conducted in an "open and transparent way".

It will mean meeting medical professionals, patients and politicians, and also look at how other acute services would be affected by changes to neonatal care.

"This review is independent of the decisions taken by the health board, and will focus on future activity," Mr Jones said.

"We all know service change must happen and it involves difficult choices, however we must focus on ensuring safe, sustainable services are in place."

Mr Jones first revealed in March that he would decide whether to call in the health board's proposals.

Despite the controversy they caused, the local community health council - the patients' watchdog - decided not to use its powers to refer the decision to Welsh government ministers.

Conservative health spokesman Darren Millar said Mr Jones must take a decision on what happens to neonatal services in north Wales as soon as possible.

"This statement fell well short of what people in north Wales were seeking," he said.

"Instead of an end to uncertainty over the future and a clear statement in support of the retention of long-term neonatal care in the region, we have yet another review and a further delay in decision making by the first minister."

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