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Hundreds protest at plans to close Withybush hospital special care baby unit closure plan

By SWEPnino  |  Posted: January 26, 2014

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Hundreds of people joined a protest to centralise specialist care for babies born in west Wales.

Around 1,000 people marched through Haverfordwest on Sunday morning to demonstrate their opposition to plans, which would mean the special care baby unit at Withybush hospital in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, would close.

Hywel Dda health board said the changes would provide a better level of care.

But Chris Overton of the

Save Withybush Action Team said the turnout showed the strength of feeling.

He said: “I've coined a new phrase, the 'Sutton test' - after Kate Sutton from Johnston near Haverfordwest who lost her baby and nearly died herself.

“I ask whether someone in a similar position will be safe when the new system is in place. I don't think they would be.

“I think everyone is concerned more and more across the county that these services are going to be cut.”

Mr Overton, who is a consultant obstetrician at Withybush, added: “They are making a very foolish mistake and people are going to lose their lives.”

The proposed new system would see doctors in Carmarthen provide specialist care, with other hospitals eventually providing a midwife-led service.

Bronglais hospital in Aberystwyth will become a midwife-led maternity unit, although during the transition period it will also retain some consultants.

The plans, initially revealed a year ago, were vetoed by the local patients watchdog over concerns that closing the special care baby unit in Haverfordwest could put lives at risk.

The move meant health minister Mark Drakeford had to step in to review the decision, with advice from a panel of experts, which concluded that providing special baby care units across the health board was “neither safe nor sustainable.”

Read more from South Wales Evening Post

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