AN ONLINE petition asking for the ‘return’ a Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and complaining about the withdrawal of paediatric services at Bronglais Hospital, has caused ‘concern’ at the local health board.
The petition, on 38 Degrees, complains about the absence of SCBU services at Bronglais and says that the policy of centralising services at Glangwili: “has had a completely negative and adverse impact on health care in Ceredigion and other areas covered by Bronglais, with many families being forced to travel for an hour or more to reach the health care they desperately need at Glangwili.”
The petition goes on to say that: “Lives have been put at risk and will continue to be so by the removal of services in the Ceredigion catchment area. Severely ill children that would otherwise be seen locally and stabilised locally, are now having to wait many hours for a Paediatric team based either in Newport or Bristol to travel to Aberystwyth and then take the child to a hospital over an hour away at least, assuming that an incubator or bed is available at Carmarthen.
“The problems that the current centralisation policy have caused are horrendous to families and needs addressing immediately with the utmost urgency. We need all our health services back now starting with 24 hour continuation/return Obstetric and Paediatric Consultant cover in the quickest possible time.” The petition gained over 1,600 signatures since being launched on the week of April 22.
The Herald asked Hywel Dda University Health Board to comment on the petition and enquired whether any changes to service, including withdrawal of existing services, were planned for Bronglais.
In a forthright response, the Health Board denied that any changes to services were planned and suggested the petition’s terms of reference were ‘inaccurate’.
Health Board Medical Director Dr Philip Kloer said: “We have read with concern some inaccurate comments on social media recently in response to an online petition which calls for ‘the return of 24-hour paediatrics to Bronglais General Hospital.”
“To be absolutely clear, Bronglais Hospital continues to have 24 hour, seven day a week consultant led inpatient paediatric services.
“The petition makes reference to Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU/ or neonatal) services at Bronglais Hospital and implies that babies from the Ceredigion area are transferred elsewhere in Wales as a direct consequence of changes to services in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire in 2014. This is not the case.
“Whilst Bronglais Hospital has a joint consultant and midwife-led maternity unit, it does not have a SCBU and has never been a formal receiving hospital for special care babies. Clinical protocols are in place to minimise the potential for premature births at the hospital. In the event of a premature birth, facilities are available to stabilise and transfer babies either for special care at the SCBU in Carmarthen.
“Only babies requiring tertiary, specialist neonatal care are transferred to units in Swansea, Cardiff or Newport, as usual. These levels of neonatal services have never been available at any of the hospitals across the Hywel Dda University Health Board area.”