Wales

Protest held over Withybush Hospital baby care loss

Withybush hospital protest

About 200 people have protested outside the Senedd, urging ministers to restore specialist baby care and paediatric services to a Pembrokeshire hospital.

Children's overnight care and a consultant-led maternity unit were moved from Withybush Hospital, Haverfordwest, to Glangwili Hospital, Carmarthen, in 2014.

At the time, Hywel Dda health board said it would improve care.

But Save Withybush Action Team wants the services returned.

Glan Phillips, a retired orthopaedic consultant at Withybush Hospital, who was among those protesting in Cardiff Bay on Saturday, said people in Pembrokeshire felt "ignored".

"We are protesting today because we are extremely disappointed that the services which we have lost to Glangwili... have not been returned," he said.

"We feel that we are in a dangerous situation with paediatrics and obstetrics.

"Our main problem is that we have a poor road of infrastructure and we feel that people are likely to die because of blockage to the road, snow and not being able to get to Glangwili in time to have their operation."

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Media captionAbout 200 people protested outside the Senedd in Cardiff

The Welsh Conservatives accused the Welsh Labour Government of overseeing hospital closures and service provision cutbacks that "continue to isolate Welsh communities, with the reconfiguration of services placing increasing strain on other hospitals".

"Today Welsh Conservatives are pledging to reverse this," a spokesman added.

Plaid Cymru said it had "always rejected" the Welsh government's "downgrading of local hospitals".

A spokesman said: "A Plaid Cymru government would provide consultant-led accident and emergency and maternity services within one hour's reach of rural and peripheral communities because we need life-saving services to be delivered as close to people as possible."

The Welsh Liberal Democrats said it was "committed to maintaining key services such as paediatrics, A&E, maternity and the specialist care baby unit".

"The removal of key services is a huge blow to communities across Pembrokeshire, and to those who have campaigned tirelessly to keep local services open," a spokesman said.

Welsh Labour said it was aware of the "huge strength of feeling" about the changes

"We're listening to what people are telling us," a spokesman said.

"But we also have to be satisfied that clinical advice is followed. A recent independent expert report said the changes were safe and sustainable and people are getting a better service."

UKIP Wales accused parties of blaming each other for the closures of paediatric services.

A spokesman added: "It goes to show why the health service is failing so much when they all spend more time navel gazing or sniping at each other than protecting the NHS."

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