A cross-party group of Assembly Members has welcomed confirmation that the Welsh Health Minister is able to intervene in controversial plans to relocate long-term neonatal care services from hospitals in North Wales to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.
During health questions in the Senedd today, Health Minister Lesley Griffiths confirmed that she is able to intervene in spite of a decision by the Betsi Cadwaladr Community Health Council’s Executive Committee last week not to formally object to the proposals.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board bosses gave the green light to move forward with the plans at a special meeting in January in spite of widespread opposition from the public. The British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives have also expressed their opposition to the plans.
North Wales Regional AMs Llyr Huws Gruffydd and Aled Roberts together with Clwyd West AM Darren Millar and Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jonesare opposed to the proposed switch.
The AMs said: “This is welcome news indeed and will reassure many people across North Wales worried about the future of baby care services in the region.
“We are pleased that the Minister has confirmed that she is actively considering the representations that have been made by members of the public and the evidence provided by clinicians. Having listened to our constituents and the arguments of clinicians, we know how persuasive the case is for retaining neonatal intensives care services in North Wales.”
They added: “As the organisation which is supposed to be the voice of patients in North Wales, we urge the Community Health Council to reconsider its position on this matter and refer the Health Board’s decisions to the Minister.
“In the event that the Community Health Council fails to refer this matter, then we will be calling upon the Minister to use her powers to intervene.”
The AMs also understand that the Community Health Council now has until the 11th March to decide whether to refer matters to the Minister. This follows a request by the watchdog for a 10-day extension to the decision timetable.