THE tragic death of a baby and the near death of her mother last week starkly illustrates why the loss of women and children’s services from Withybush Hospital is causing so much fear across the county.

Kate Sutton was rushed to Withybush for an emergency caesarean in the early hours of January 15 from her home just 10 minutes away in Johnston.

Even being so close to medical help sadly failed to save her baby daughter and doctors told Kate she would have died too had they had to go to Carmarthen - a possibility under Hywel Dda University Health Board plans.

The swift action of paramedics and hospital staff, who had Kate in theatre within 15 minutes, has been praised by the family who are clear that without Withybush Hospital they would be facing a ‘double burial’.

The health board is proposing a level two neonatal unit be built at Glangwili Hospital, leaving Withybush with a midwife led maternity unit where only the lowest risk births will take place.

But even low risk mothers who develop complications suddenly – as in Kate’s case – will face a trip of more than 33 miles from Haverfordwest or significantly further from other parts of the county.

Kate’s father Ed Sutton said: “I wasn’t even sure that she would make it to Withybush. She was in theatre within 15 minutes.

“Carmarthen? If that was the case she wouldn’t be alive today. It’s that simple.”

“I spoke to the surgeons who did the operation who told me that if she had to be taken to Glangwili the odds are very high that she wouldn’t have survived.

“Any politician, anyone considering closing these services needs to come and talk to me.

“These are frontline services; they are critical.”

Both Ed and Kate had said they had not realised how serious the loss of services could be for patients until they were put in such a devastating position.

“It’s really brought home how important it is to stop the plan to downgrade our local hospital. The ambulance was brilliant and got to my home within six minutes of the call.

“I’m devastated to have lost my baby daughter, but what’s happened makes those taking the decision change their minds, I’ll know she didn’t die entirely in vain,” Kate told Walesonline.

Chairman of the Save Withybush Action Team (SWAT) Chris Overton is a consultant obstetrician.

He, and other campaigners, have said for some time that the lives of mothers and babies are at risk if healthcare changes go ahead.

Dr Overton, was not on duty at the time Kate was rushed to hospital but has said he had been informed of the case.

“I have no doubt that she would not have survived if she’d had to be taken to Carmarthen.

“We have always said that something like this would happen if Withybush was downgraded. Because Kate has a child already she would not have been flagged up as a seriously at-risk case, and if Withybush wasn’t available she would have had to go to Carmarthen,” he said.