West Wales needs a new Hospital – not improvements to Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen. Failing to act in a utilitarian way may well lead to unrest..

Walesonline reports 22nd September: Maternity ward ‘not fit for purpose’ and increased numbers of patients ‘put pressure on staff’ after hospital reorganisation – The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health published the findings after looking at the NHS reorganisation in West Wales

West Wales needs a new Hospital – not improvements to Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen. Failing to act in a utilitarian way may well lead to unrest.. The Post Code lottery where taxpayers pay the same for inferior services was never clearer than in West Wales.

Welsh Conservatives have called for an urgent statement from the Health Minister, after a report labelled Glangwili Hospital’s labour ward as “not fit for purpose”.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has looked in depth at Labour’s NHS reorganisation in west Wales, including significant changes at Withybush, where care for the most premature and sick babies has been moved to Glangwili in Carmarthen.

It has concluded that the hospital’s maternity ward is “not fit for purpose; it is too small, with insufficient facilities and provides a poor environment for women and staff.”

The full report has been published on Hywel Dda University Health Board’s website, ahead of a board meeting on Thursday.

The report states: “The Glangwili labour ward is not fit for purpose; it is too small, with insufficient facilities and provides a poor environment for women and staff.

“The increased numbers of women using the unit, including those with high-risk pregnancies from Pembrokeshire has put additional pressure on the staff with two culturally very different teams learning to work together in cramped and difficult conditions.”

It continues: “Whilst senior midwives have strived to ensure that the service is safe, there has been insufficient priority given to the promised expansion of the facilities (Phase two) and the organisational development needs of the midwifery staff. These must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Health, Darren Millar AM, described the reports findings as “damning conclusions” that must now be dealt with urgently.

“For mums-to-be already being forced to travel further – this report will be extremely grim reading.

“Labour’s record-breaking NHS budget cuts have resulted in unwanted NHS reorganisation right across Wales.

“Despite the hard work of staff, it’s clear to me that changes to maternity services in west Wales continue to be dangerous and avoidable.”

However the report did say that despite the findings, survey data collected post-natally from 500 women who used the services at all three sites during the past year (since the changes) have shown overwhelmingly positive responses.

It adds: “The attention and care provided by the midwives to the women was particularly highlighted, and there were relatively few negative comments, which mainly related to environment and parking.”

‘Facilities completely inadequate’

Assembly Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, Paul Davies, who recently visited Glangwili Hospital and raised concerns over the facilities available to staff and patients, said: “Despite the hard work of staff on the ward, the facilities at Glangwili are completely inadequate.

“Not only are Labour ministers forcing mothers in my constituency to travel further for treatment, they’re forcing them into a ward that’s not fit for purpose.

“Lives could be put at risk. The situation is that serious.

“I will continue to fight for the reintroduction of the special care baby unit at Withybush.”

Assembly Member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Angela Burns AM, said: “Like all those reading this report, I am extremely distressed at the services awaiting mums-to-be at Glangwili.

“No matter how hard our determined staff work, their efforts will continue to be hamstrung by the facilities available.

“It cannot continue and the special care baby unit at Withybush Hospital must be reinstated.”Hywel Dda University Health Board’s chief executive Steve Moore said: “This report, although only interim, provides us with an opportunity to assess where we are so we can do more of what is working well; and equally to address areas of concern.

Hywel Dda University Health Board’s chief executive Steve Moore said: “This report, although only interim, provides us with an opportunity to assess where we are so we can do more of what is working well; and equally to address areas of concern.

“I am grateful to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, other colleges and the lay member involved, for undertaking this work as it has been essential for us to be independently reviewed against the criteria we aimed to deliver. We committed earlier in the year to be open and transparent with staff and our public, so we are sharing this interim report, which will be discussed at full Health Board. I expect a clear action plan and timescale to be drawn up following this, including discussion with the Welsh Government and Health Minister, as well as clinicians and other staff and partners, including the Community Health Council, about any next steps.”

‘Distorted reading’

Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said the Conservatives’ response was a “distorted reading of an independent evaluation about the safety and sustainability of changes to maternity, neonatal and paediatric services in West Wales”.

He added: “It was commissioned by Hywel Dda University Health Board a year after consultant-led maternity care and neonatal services were concentrated at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.

“It concludes that, despite all the persistent claims to the contrary, the changes are safe, sustainable in the long-term and have led to improved outcomes for mothers and babies.

“There is also better compliance with professional standards and more women are being cared for in the Hywel Dda area than under the previous arrangements. These findings will provide reassurance to people in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.

“It makes it clear that it would make no clinical sense to return to the previous arrangements. It makes a number of recommendations for the future, including the need for some improvements to the estate at Glangwili Hospital.”

BBC news report: Glangwili Hospital labour ward criticism accepted

The Neonatal debate and GP comment

Trust disintegration and a disintegration of trust.

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Commissioning, Post Code Lottery, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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