Campaigners fear budget will be excuse for closure in Wrexham

Reporter:

Rebecca Cole

FAMILIES backing the campaign to save children’s services at Wrexham Maelor Hospital fear the effects of financial cuts.

They are worried Welsh Assembly Government budget plans unveiled on Wednesday will be ‘an excuse’ for the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board to close the paediatrics ward.

Health spending will be frozen at around £6 billion until 2012-13 - in real terms, a 6.3 per cent cut for health and social services

Brian Valentine and his wife Nicola have been fighting the proposed closure of the maternity and special care baby unit after their son, Dylan, spent two months there when he was born three months premature.

He believes his wife and child would have died if they had had to travel further for emergency medical care.

Mr Valentine said: “This is a huge concern for anyone who’s expecting a baby.

“If the health board use the cuts as an excuse to close the children’s ward there could be serious consequences.

“We’re talking about losing lives here.”

Clare Brown, whose daughter Lauren was treated at the hospital but sadly died of bone cancer at just eight years old, shares these fears.

She said: “I understand cuts need to be made but more needs to be done to protect such a valuable service.

“My daughter chose to be treated at Wrexham over any other hospital in the area and it would be such a shame to lose it.”

But Sandy Mewies, Delyn Labour AM, believes the draft budget will protect health and schools by prioritising them and other benefits. She said: “This is an extremely difficult time with the loss of £860m from our budget but we are determined to protect vital services for the people who depend on them.”

And Lesley Griffiths, AM for Wrexham, said the draft Budget comes on the back of figures released by the Office of National Statistics which appear to back the Welsh approach to recovery.

The figures show stronger employment growth in Wales than the rest of the UK and a fall in unemployment of 0.9 per cent, down 12,000 on the previous quarter.

Budget minister Jane Hutt said: “In accordance with the best traditions of the people of Wales, we are resolved to support people, communities and public services throughout the difficult period that lies ahead.”

See full story in the Leader

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