Withybush Hospital paediatric unit downgraded, board confirms

Withybush protest A march gathered at the hospital last weekend to protest at the changes to specialist baby care services

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Paediatric care has been downgraded at a west Wales hospital, the local health board has confirmed.

The 24-hour unit at Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, will be cut to 12 hours, Hywel Dda said.

Nurses and middle-grade doctors will staff the unit. A 24-hour service will be available at Glangwili hospital in Carmarthenshire.

The health board said details of the service and how it will be delivered will be finalised in the coming months.

It comes a week after the announcement that the hospital is to close its specialist baby care services.

Start Quote

Clinicians have considered this model to be a pragmatic way of delivering safe, sustainable services ”

End Quote Hywel Dda

The minutes from a board meeting dated 30 January show the scaled-back paediatric unit will be based in the emergency department.

"Clinicians have considered this model to be a pragmatic way of delivering safe, sustainable services given all the constraints on staffing, training and finance," the document said.

A spokeswoman for Hywel Dda Health Board said: "Our proposed service is a 12-hour paediatric ambulatory care unit at Withybush Hospital meaning that inpatient services for children in the south of the health board will be at Glangwili Hospital.

"The detail of what this service will look like and how it will be delivered has not been finalised and will be developed by our clinical staff and planning teams over the coming months."

Retain some consultants

It comes nearly a week after 1,000 people marched against plans to centralise specialist care for babies born in west Wales.

Hywel Dda said the changes would provide a better level of care but campaigners said the "foolish" plans would put lives at risk.

The changes are part of a wider reorganisation.

Under the proposed new system, doctors in Carmarthen will provide specialist care, with other hospitals eventually providing a midwife-led service.

Bronglais hospital in Aberystwyth will become a midwife-led maternity unit, although during the transition period it will also retain some consultants.

The plans were initially revealed a year ago by the health board but were vetoed by the local patients watchdog over concerns that closing the special care baby unit in Haverfordwest could put lives at risk.

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