North East Wales

Maternity changes in north Wales 'may cost lives'

Image caption There have been protests over plans to reconfigure maternity services at hospitals such as Glan Clwyd

A GP has warned that lives will be lost if plans to reorganise maternity care in north Wales go ahead.

Maternity services may be cut at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Glan Clwyd, and Wrexham Maelor hospitals to provide midwife-led units.

Prestatyn GP Eamonn Jessup said if the change was made at Glan Clwyd mothers would have to travel for emergency caesareans and some babies would die.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said it aimed to provide "high quality, safe and effective services".

Dr Jessup told BBC Radio Wales' Eye on Wales programme: "If we say there are 10 women in Glan Clwyd that have to have caesareans performed in 15 minutes, they cannot have that done, and that will be five to 10 babies who will die.

"I'm sorry to put it that bluntly, but I really cannot see any way around that, and it will undoubtedly cause perinatal death, I'm afraid."

Four options for maternity services are currently being considered by the health board.

Dr Jessup will be giving evidence this week to an inquiry by the assembly's health, wellbeing and local government committee into the way such reviews are conducted by health boards.

The committee chair, Clwyd West Conservative AM Darren Millar, said the inquiry was sparked by the concerns of constituents about reviews in north Wales, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, and across other areas of Wales.

A Cardiff and Vale UHB spokesman has since said their review process had not been called into question.

"Clearly, if clinicians are telling us that downgrading of services at any of the three district general hospitals would lead to the deaths of mothers or their babies, then we have to listen to that and make sure that there aren't changes which are going to threaten people's lives," said Mr Millar.

"I don't want to see my constituents dying in the back of ambulances on the way to hospital.

Patients' lives

"That's what we've got to prevent, and that's why these review processes have to pause, have to take stock, and have to listen to the public and those clinicians that are making those points."

Mother-of-three Nicola Chan, who had all her children at Glan Clwyd Hospital, is among those campaigning against the proposals.

She gave birth to a fourth baby, who was stillborn, in August and needed an emergency caesarean.

A teacher from Abergele in Conwy, she said: "Where would I be today, had those services not been there for me at the time? It's just impossible to get out to the other two hospitals within the time to have an emergency section, or any emergency care given.

"I think they need to consider lives, and put patients' lives before their budgets."

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said it would allow more time for clinicians to feed into the review process.

A spokesman stressed that the health board was currently engaging with stakeholders over the various options - which are being discussed prior to a more formal consultation process - and that the views of clinicians and the public would be fully considered.

Eye on Wales is broadcast on BBC Radio Wales after the 1300 GMT news on Sunday.

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