Wales

Betsi Cadwaladr U-turn over doctor-led maternity care

Maternity care protest poster
Image caption Hundreds of people attended protests against plans to remove consultant care from Glan Clwyd Hospital

Plans to temporarily remove doctor-led maternity care at one of the three north Wales hospitals look set to be abandoned.

A document to go to Betsi Cadwaladr health board next week recommends services at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan stay as they are.

Consultant-led maternity services at the Denbighshire hospital were due to go as part of widely-opposed plans.

Campaigners felt mothers and babies would have been put at risk.

The health board previously argued a shortage of staff meant full-blown maternity services could not be kept running at all three hospitals.

'Strength of feeling'

It wanted to temporarily transfer maternity doctors from Glan Clwyd to strengthen teams at Bangor's Ysbyty Gwynedd and Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

That meant Glan Clwyd would have only had a stand alone midwife-led maternity unit for low-risk pregnancies.

Higher risk mothers would have needed to go to Bangor or Wrexham.

But on Tuesday the health board said that after a wider consultation, it considered the "balance of clinical risks relating to the obstetrics and gynaecology service no longer requires an immediate change to the configuration of obstetrics and gynaecology".

A statement added: "We remain fully aware of the strength of feeling that this issue has generated but our chief concern has always been the safety of patients."

The board will make a final decision on the plan at a meeting on 8 December.

Image copyright Richard Hoare/Geograph
Image caption Changes would have seen a midwife-led maternity unit at Glan Clwyd Hospital

Betsi Cadwaladr was put into special measures - the highest possible level of Welsh government intervention - in June over concerns about its leadership.

Vaughan Gething, deputy minister for health, said "real progress" was now being made.

"One of the reasons for putting the health board into special measures was the need for the board to show tangible improvement in reconnecting with the public and become a listening organisation," he added.

"The papers being published today are the result of a detailed, open and transparent consultation process with the people of north Wales and NHS staff.

"This is exactly the kind of progress we want to see."

Darren Millar, Clwyd West AM, added: "This is a victory for common sense and I am pleased that the health board has finally listened to the concerns of campaigners, clinicians and the public right across north Wales who opposed these plans."

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