The Welsh Health Minister has been asked to address concerns following his statement on maternity services in the Hywel Dda Health Board area.
Rebecca Evans, AM for Mid and West Wales, voiced concerns about the safety of the proposals for pregnant women who, following assessment under established clinical guidelines, are deemed to be ‘not at risk.’
Mrs Evans said: “What really, really frightens people about these proposals are those rare cases where a woman who has been identified as ‘not at risk’ suddenly develops unexpected complications. So, according to the evidence, Minister, how often would you expect women to find themselves in that situation, under the new system? What solid reassurance can you offer them about their safety and that of their baby?”
She went on to ask for more detail of the “safety net” which the expert panel said must be put in place, and sought information about the proposed “phased implementation” of plans.
The Minister said: “At Withybush, while the midwifery-led unit is being established and matured, a level of consultant obstetric cover will remain in place. I expect that to be there for at least the next 12 months. It will provide the safety net to make sure that, should midwives come across cases that, in those early establishing days, they do not have the confidence or competence to deal with, there will be consultant obstetric cover available to them.
“At Bronglais, the existing provision will continue during this safety-net period, and certainly into the period during which the piece of work that has been set in hand to look at the future of services across that middle part of north Wales will have a chance to consider this issue and to report on its work.”
Mrs Evans raised the potential impact of the proposals on Glangwili Hospital, asking about the clinical and physical capacity of the hospital, and accommodation for parents.
The Minister stated that additional expertise would be required at Glangwili.
He said: “ The panel was in favour of Glangwili because it believes that recruitment there will be more successful. It will require physical capacity at Glangwili as well. I expect the level 2 unit to be built to modern standards. There is money in the Welsh Government capital programme next year set aside against exactly this development.”