CAMPAIGNERS fighting to retain high level intensive neonatal care at Wrexham Maelor Hospital said they were “angered” and “deeply devastated” by the decision.
Ruth Drake, of Ruabon, whose daughter Elin Hâf received care at the Maelor when she was born with cerebral palsy, said opponents of the proposals would fight on.
She said: “I’m disappointed because we had pinned our hopes on support from the CHC.
“They are, after all, supposed to be representing the community and I’m deeply saddened by their decision. More than saddened, I’m devastated. But the campaign is still going to continue.”
Mrs Drake, chair of Cherish, the Special Care Baby Unit support group in Wrexham, said she had joined the recently formed North Wales Health Alliance which aimed to challenge a number of health board decisions.
She said: “We’re looking into the possibility of a judicial review as a group. We will definitely continue in that vein. But on behalf of all local campaigners, I’d like to say how angered and upset we are by this decision.
“We will fight to the bitter end. However hopeless it may seem, I still have faith in Lesley Griffiths, as a Wrexham woman and our health minister that she will do the right thing.”
Mrs Drake added she felt the wishes of the community had been “blatantly ignored” by both the health board and the community health council.
She said: “The strength of feeling across the whole of North Wales is huge and we believe this mistake will come back to haunt them, because babies’ lives will be at risk.”
Sabina Hoekma, mother to Elisabeth and Mara Down, twins born at just three-and-half weeks and cared for at Ysbyty Maelor, said it was a difficult situation.
She said: “I can have sympathy for the health board, if they say they don’t have the money to provide the best resources available, and I’m aware Arrowe Park is a centre of excellence.
“But as a parent I would rather the service stays in North Wales. You feel that pretty much everything has been said, but it hasn’t been listened to.
“As a parent I feel there are many questions that haven’t been answered, about transport, about accommodation, about the differences in healthcare provision between England and Wales and about care for the parents themselves, which is as important as the care for the babies.
“I feel the emotional, physical and financial impact on parents from Wales has not been taken into account.”
A petition at www.change.org calling on Lesley Griffiths AM to step in and stop the transfer of long-term neonatal care from North Wales to the Wirral has gathered more than 2,000 signatures.
Speaking to the Leader in January, Mary Burrows, chief executive of the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, said the decision was based on maintaining health standards, not on saving money.
While Arrowe Park has six neonatal intensive tier three specialists, there are none in North Wales.
She said: “We don’t have the numbers of babies we need to maintain the scale of staffing, and looking at population projections we will never be in that position.”