Health minister hits out at opponents of change

Reporter:

Hayley Collins

AN Assembly Government minister has blasted opponents of the proposed shake-up of children’s services in hospitals across North Wales.

During a visit to Flint yesterday Edwina Hart, minister for health and social services, hit out at campaigners calling for the maternity ward and special care baby unit at the Wrexham Maelor to be retained.

Miss Hart said the opposition was “causing unnecessary worry” when no decisions had yet been taken.

She said: “We are only looking at certain issues at the moment and nothing will happen until there is a consultation.

“People have got to recognise that we have to look at certain issues.

“This is not the only part of Wales looking at service changes to make sure we are fit for purpose. I’m fed up with people causing mischief just because they have been given early notice of what we are talking about.”

And she issued a clear message to the opponents.

“Stop upsetting people because this is worrying them and unnecessarily so.

“We have to put the opposition into context. There is also a lot of support for looking at these issues, but the noisiest are the ones who don’t want change.

“If we can’t speak openly about what we are doing then there’s something very wrong in society.”

Options currently being looked at by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board include retaining services at all three hospitals, Wrexham Maelor, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Gwynedd; establishing a two-site model at either Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Gwynedd, or at Ysbyty Gwynedd and the Maelor.

A proposal for a single paediatric unit at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd with day units at the Maelor and Ysbyty Gwynedd is also being considered.

Miss Hart said it is inevitable there will be changes to services.

She added: “If you look at how hospitals were run in the 1960s and ‘80s it was very different to now. The world moves on.

“Some people don’t want change and I can understand that.

“People don’t want to travel 20 miles further to get something done, but sometimes you have to to get the best service.

“When my child was young I would have gone to Great Ormond Street if that’s where the best service was.”

Speaking about Government cuts to the health service budget she said it was too early to say what the impact on services would be.

“We can’t say what’s going to happen but it’s important to protect front line services,” she said.

“The bottom line for the trade unions is to ensure there will be no compulsory redundancies and that is not a line I would like to go down either because once skills are gone out of the service you can’t get them back.”

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