Iwasguidedd by What's Best for the Babbies; FIRST MINISTER RESPONDS ON NEONATAL CARE Carwyn Jones Explains His Neonatal Decision as Service Moves to Arrowe Park

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), November 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

Iwasguidedd by What's Best for the Babbies; FIRST MINISTER RESPONDS ON NEONATAL CARE Carwyn Jones Explains His Neonatal Decision as Service Moves to Arrowe Park


LAST week's Daily Post editorial portrayed my announcement on neonatal service provision as a loss for North Wales. In fact, it will mean more babies will be treated in North Wales as otherwise would have happened. And that's not all. The green light to create a new specialist centre of expertise for neonatal care will further enhance local services.

I understand the deep attachment people in North Wales feel towards their neonatal services. These services provide care for very ill babies at a critical time in their life. Many parents have children whose lives have been saved by the fantastic staff at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Wrexham Maelor. The Daily Post itself has featured moving stories about a number of those families.

So I recognise it's an emotionally charged issue. That's why I asked the leading clinical experts, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), to conduct an independent review of the proposals for future neonatal service provision in North Wales.

Quite understandably, local groups including politicians, clinicians and parents of children cared for in our hospitals all have their own strong reasons or beliefs for wanting services to remain in Wales.

So given the intensity of feeling about this subject, I felt it was right that independent clinical experts with no emotional attachment should provide an honest assessment of what was possible in terms of service provision.

The decision I announced last week, based on the independent clinicians' recommendations, means that the vast majority of babies will continue to be treated in North Wales. Only the very sickest babies - a relatively small number each year - will need care in expert centres across the border, and these will be linked to services in Wales through strengthened networks.

I know that some people have expressed disappointment at this. But I believe this is the best solution for services in the region and - most importantly - premature babies and their families.

As the clinicians make clear, a founding principle for any neonatal service should be what is in the best interest of the infant.

The decision I've taken is based on the best clinical advice for infants and the long term sustainability of neonatal services in North Wales - and not based Carwyn Jones on short term political opportunism, as some would prefer it.

For some, it is more important to have every facility provided in Wales, than it is to have a safe facility provided, irrespective of where it is. That is something I'm sure parents of extremely sick children would not tolerate, and neither will I. No-one should doubt that with this decision Wales is getting the highest quality care for the few very sick babies that will require it each year.

The clinicians' review found the services at Arrowe Park are excellent.

And I've made a commitment that transport arrangements around this be enhanced so that the most vulnerable children reach these services quickly and safely and are transferred back to Wales as soon as appropriate. It means that these children and their families will receive the best care possible, rather than the best care locally available.

We cannot - and should not - provide services in Wales just for the sake of it. And although I am sympathetic to clinical advice on the possibility of providing a full neonatal intensive care unit in North Wales in the longer term, I cannot agree to that option at this time. …

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