Protesters fighting the reduction of services at Withybush Hospital are heading to the Senedd to make their voices heard
Updated 2:37pm Wednesday 18th June 2014 in News
This live event has finished
- Hundreds of Pembrokeshire people travel to the Senedd in Cardiff
- They were protesting against the downgrading of vital services at Withybush Hospital
- Health Minister Mark Drakeford did not come out to speak to them
- Fight continues with judicial review of controversial proposals
Hundreds of protesters will be heading back down the M4 this afternoon after once again telling the Welsh Government that downgrading services at Withybush Hospital would be a huge mistake.
Thanks for being with us.
The protest has finished and the crowd are leaving. We will finish off with a few images from today.
AS the demonstration winds down some protesters leave their placards outside the Senedd so "Mark Drakeford does not forget we were here!"
Before the end of the protest the crowd were led in a procession around the Senedd building, ensuring no one inside missed what they had to say.
The chanting and singing brings a South Wales AM out to the steps of the Senedd.
The crowd are shouting "shame" and "Drakeford out".
Lib Dem Eluned Parrot, AM for South Wales Central, said: "This is driven politically, they are trying to change the way the NHS works in Wales."
No Labour AMs have appeared to speak to protesters.
Ruth Howells, retired consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician who worked at Withybush Hospital, points out flaws in the health board's plans.
"I'm worried about the journey times in an emergency. No one is even talking about the extra travel costs for the patients and their families.
"I have heard it said that the health board has commented that these will be "acceptable deaths". I don't recognise that term."
The hairs of the back of reporter Jenny Hanson’s neck stood up as the crowd sang the Welsh national anthem and now everyone is singing Sospan fach with real gusto.
Hundreds in baby care demonstration: Hundreds gather at a protest outside the Senedd against plans to change s... http://t.co/aKdXq9e5qi— @Halecksis 18 June 2014
Shadow health minister Darren Millar praised Withybush Hospital and its “dedicated staff”.
He says the Welsh Conservative party is committed to fighting these proposals.
"It's a matter of life and death, and we cannot let our children down. We are against these cuts," he said.
Politicians address the crowd.
Plaid Cymru candidate John Osmond says Withybush Hospital should be at the heart of all parties’ election campaigns in Pembrokeshire and points out no Labour Assembly Members have come to address the crowd.
"I want to say something about the politics of this. The Senedd and Mark Drakeford are trying to wash their hands of this and blame the health board. I think Mr Drakeford should come out here and explain himself,” he added.
The crowd are told the Minister is in a meeting and may address them later.
Mid and West Wales Plaid AM Simon Thomas refers to a Welsh Government statement that says reconfiguration must go ahead and the crowd screams ‘No!’
Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies addressed the huge crowd outside the Senedd.
He said Pembrokeshire will not tolerate the downgrading of Withybush Hospital.
"It's totally unacceptable, and it's dangerous."
He referred to the "golden hour" for receiving treatment and raised the question of losing full A&E services as a result of the downgrade. "Let's continue fighting together!" he added.
Dr Chris Overton, chairman of the Save Withybush Action Team (SWAT) addresses the crowd and thanks everyone for coming to show the Welsh Government it is making a mistake allowing the changes to go ahead.
RT @grahamhenry: A very vocal protest against changes proposed for Withybush hospital. #Senedd http://t.co/2sYwwenIp0— @CarysNon 18 June 2014
Protesters are now gathering outside the Senedd with their signs and placards illustrating their stark message.
Zoe Hughes contacted us via facebook. She said:
"My daughter and I are travelling on one of the buses to protest! Freya is 8 months old, first time on a bus but third time protesting to save essential services at Withybush xx"
A hardhitting banner on the steps of the Senedd
Walking to position to make their voices heard
The coaches are pulling into Cardiff now.
Pauline Edwards said: "I'm a carer. Our residents go to Withybush, they are mostly elderly people. We'd have to get them to Carmarthen if Withybush goes.
"I'm here for the demonstration. Recently a neighbour of mine had a baby, and everything went ok. But glangwili is a very long way away."
Rebecca James believes the changes would make people think carefully about having children in Pembrokeshire.
Rebecca, travelling with 17 month-old Corey Wareham, said: “We were back and forth to Withybush every day twice a day because he wasn't growing as he should have been during my pregnancy. If Withybush wasn't there, we would have had to have stayed in Carmarthen to get those checks, because it would have cost us a fortune to go to Glangwili twice a day.
“A few days after the birth I haemorrhaged and had to be rushed to hospital. If I had to go to Glangwili, I probably wouldn't have made it.
“If we want another one, and go through the same thing again, but have to go to Glangwili…Well, it makes you really think about whether you want to risk having another one.”
There are plenty of children going to the protest with their parents and grandparents including nine month-old Regan James.
His grandma Lona James said: “His mum, Jade, had an emergency c section because she had an infection, which they didn't know about until the last minute.
“He was born within half an hour of getting to Withybush and he wasn't breathing when he first came out so he was rushed to SCBU. He was there for a week because he had to have antibiotics.
“They told Jade's mum that both of them wouldn't be here if they had had to wait longer for treatment. If Jade had had to go to Glangwili, neither of them would be with us now.”
RT @SCrabbMP: 500+ Pembrokeshire ppl expected at Senedd today- united against Welsh Labour's reckless health cuts. Save Withybush. http://t…— @emilyalicepoole 18 June 2014
Dr Ashley Thomas was travelling to the protest with wife Kay.
“I'm a retired consultant anaesthetist. My job was established when Withybush first opened. One of my responsibilities was to provide anaesthesia and pain control for pregnant women. There used to be a dedicated theatre on the labour ward for emergency caesareans, because the situation is so acute there is no time to transfer to other hospitals.
“This plan is ridiculous, and is bound to result in morbidity and mortality. There is no such thing as a low risk delivery, except in hindsight. All the facilities at Withybush have been fought for over the past 40 years, because the need has been proven.”
Kay added: “If A&E is not going to be 24 hour, what effect is that going to have on companies that provide outdoor activities for children and young people? When we depend so much on tourism, are schools or organisations going to think twice about visiting Pembrokeshire? What about local rugby clubs, or other sporting groups? The refineries. The knock-on effects are massive.”
Please everyone help raise awareness to save Withybush Hospital @SaveWithybush . They saved my life 10 years ago. - Irish girl 🍀— @Noirin0Neill 18 June 2014
Mother of four Julie LaTobe said that it was the closure of the A40 recently that emphasised the importance of retaining services.
“I work for the health service in a doctors’ surgery. I have four children, three of whom were born in Withybush hospital. I didn't have complications, but one of my pregnancies was a bit problematic.
“What really brought this matter home for me was when there was an accident on the A40 and it took us an hour together from Canaston Bridge to Haverfordwest.
“What happens when it's the middle of the night and you have an emergency with your child, and you only have enough diesel in your car to get to Withybush, but you have to go to Glangwili?” said Julie.
She also raised the issue of funding for the Air Ambulance, which is maintained by charitable donations, asking will the health board provide money for this lifeline with so many more people needing it?
10 buses and many a car full has left Pembrokeshire and we are heading for the Senedd! Raise your voices and lets be heard!!!— @SaveWithybush 18 June 2014
Nia Woodcock is travelling to Cardiff with her one year-old son, Dylan. Nia told reporter Jenny Hanson: "I'm here to fight for Withybush and show support, as a mum and as a nurse.
"We use the hospital for so many things, as a family. I had a normal pregnancy but in the end I needed a Caesarian because he was breech.
"We live in north Pembrokeshire, and for my next birth I will have to go to Glangwili, because of the intervention.
"Even if he had been a normal birth, I may not have a normal delivery next time. For us it's half an hour to Withybush, so it's well over an hour to glangwili. It's really worrying for everyone."
Among the hundreds travelling up the M4 is Jim Phillips. He said: "I am here for the same reason everyone else is. I don't want SCBU to go.
"If it goes, lots of other things will go too.
"It could affect me because my son and daughter haven't had children yet.
"I'm worried that when they do, they might have to travel 30 miles. That's a long way normally, and in an emergency it's too far. There is no such thing as a normal delivery. I just can't understand it. They are putting people's lives at risk."
Good morning and welcome to our live updates as hundreds of Pembrokeshire people travel to the Senedd to protest against downgrading of services at Withybush Hospital.
Western Telegraph reporter Jenny Hanson is travelling with them to keep us updated throughout the day.
She says they are in good spirits on the buses!
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