Essential maternity services should remain at the Wrexham Maelor hospital, according to Plaid Cymru’s Wrexham Assembly candidate Marc Jones.
Mr Jones said the campaign that had grown around keeping the Special Care Baby Unit and other maternity services at Wrexham was an indication of how strongly local people felt about their NHS. He added:“The Special Care Baby Unit is effectively an emergency unit dealing with premature and sick neonates. New babies are among the most unpredictable of patients and need immediate treatment rather than facing a possible 45-minute emergency dash up the A55.
“Recent meetings to outline the possibilities have shown that Wrexham scores well when it comes to delivering a service to an area with a growing and youthful population. It is also well placed to serve North Powys and the population down towards Barmouth. It would also provide an alternative to people opting to go to Shrewsbury or Chester to have their babies, which comes at an additional cost to the NHS in Wales.”
He said the clinical case for reducing services, which has been cited by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board as a reason for wanting to centralise maternity services in one or two centres across North Wales, should not be used as an excuse to cut costs.
Mr Jones, who is also a councillor in the town, added: “North Wales’s hospitals deal with 7,300 births a year – more than any other board area in Wales – and it currently has three neonatal units to deal with sick and premature babies at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Wrecsam Maelor.
“Feedback from the recent stakeholders’ meeting in Llandudno revealed that the option ticking the most boxes is one that keeps the Special Care Baby Units in Wrecsam and Gwynedd.
“There is a good objective case to retain the SCBU in Wrecsam and I hope NHS bosses will recognise that. They should not use their need to cut spending by 9% to reduce essential services, especially as the proposed specialist ambulance service available would only operate for 12 hours. Emergency services can’t work 9-5 – they have to be available on a 24-hour basis.”
He expressed support for the online petition and Facebook campaign started by mothers who had direct experience of the care provided on the unit. He added: “Given that one in 10 new-born babies spends some time on the unit, it’s no surprise that so many people have a very deep emotional involvement in the unit.”