Concerns are growing about the delay in publishing the findings of the North Wales neonatal review.
The review was announced after Betsi Cadwaladr health board decided, against clinical advice, to move neonatal intensive care to Arrowe Park on the Wirral.
The First Minister ordered the review by a team from the Royal College of Paediatricans earlier this year with the intention of reporting back by September.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, said: “Betsi Cadwaladr board made a decision back in January that mystified most people, in particular experts in the field such as the BMA, RCN and RCM. As a result of pressure from campaign groups, the relevant unions and politicians such as myself, the First Minister was forced to order a review into the decision.
“The decision is critical for the future of neonatal care in the North because it would reduce the number of intensive care cots from the current 11 to just four. These would be purely to stabilise babies needing intensive care before transferring them to England. There is no doubt that clinical expertise will be reduced in Glan Clwyd and Wrexham hospitals if this switch takes place.
“I and many experts in the field have grave doubts about whether this will put both the babies that are moved and those needing critical care who remain in North Wales at greater risk. There are also concerns about the additional travelling difficulties for parents and families for babies facing long-term intensive care in Arrowe Park, especially if they have to come from further west.”
Mr Gruffydd urged the First Minister to speed up the decision: “Carwyn Jones took the decision to call in this switch back in March. Our understanding is that the review panel handed him the report more than a month ago. The switch to Arrowe Park is due to start in January 2014 and the ongoing delay and uncertainty is having an effect on both staff morale and security.
“I would therefore urge the First Minister to come clean about his intentions about neonatal intensive care in North Wales. It’s time for some decisive action rather than dilly-dallying.”