Anger over Delay in Decision on Children's Neurosurgery Unit

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Byline: MADELEINE BRINDLEY

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to retain a children's neurosurgery unit in Swansea were left in limbo last night as a decision over its future was delayed until after next year's National Assembly elections.

Health chiefs were accused of putting politics ahead of making a controversial decision that has pitched Swansea against Cardiff.

The Specialised Health Services Commission for Wales (SHSCW) has now decided it wants further consultation on the controversial proposal to centralise paediatric neurosurgery in Cardiff, after conducting a comprehensive three-month consultation on the ori-ginal plans. It has also called for a two-year retrospective audit into all cases carried out in the units based at the University Hospital of Wales and Morriston Hospital.

The long-awaited decision about the future of the Swansea centre is now expected next year, after the May elections. Swansea-based paediatrician Dr Dewi Evans said, ``This is a fudge and the whole process is becoming increasingly farcical.

``It is clear that SHSCW is de-termined to have its own way and its clear lack of humility to acknowledge they were wrong in the first place.

``The fact it made a recommendation and now it is looking for more information it clearly proves beyond doubt that the original research was flawed.''

And Plaid Cymru's health spokesman Dr Dai Lloyd said, ``This was always going to be a political decision regardless of what the medical profession and royal colleges said.

``Delaying a decision is an attempt to kick the issue into the long grass so Jane Hutt doesn't have to make decision.

``Announcing the unit will be in Cardiff would be disadvantageous to Jane Hutt and Labour in Swansea.''

The SHSCW review of specialised paediatric services, including neurosurgery, was conducted to ensure that children from Wales receive specialised services matching the best in the UK.

The review was needed because the population of South Wales is too small to provide the full range of services in isolation. Services in North Wales are, and will continue to be, concentrated at AlderHey Hospital in Liverpool.

Andrew Cullen's wife was killed and his daughter Catrin suffered horrific head and facial injuries in accident near Llandeilo in 1999. …