THERE were bitter-sweet celebrations at the last Teddy Bear’s picnic for Withybush Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit on Saturday at Scolton Manor.
Staff at the unit, which is to close next month, hold a party every year for babies and their families who have had lifesaving care on the unit.
Despite wet weather the party was well attended and all had nothing but praise for the SCBU nurses and the unit itself, as well as extreme disappointment that Health Board plans to close the unit and move cots to Carmarthen has continued despite widespread opposition.
Most of Withybush’s dedicated nurses will be transferring to the Glangwili unit and will uphold the party tradition for families from Pembrokeshire despite no special care babies being born in the county following the move.
Families had come from far afield to show support for the unit, including Gemma Moseley and Scott Mills with their 16 month-old son Kielan who had stayed at SCBU when he was born at 32 weeks.
“I was stuck in Bronglais and Kielan came here, I couldn’t even hold him. It was a lot of strain on the family but without Withybush SCBU it could have been a lot worse,” said Gemma.
Nicola Brittain from Haverfordwest said she had been told that she and daughter Jess, who was born 10 weeks early, would not have made it to Carmarthen.
She added that being able to pop over to Withybush with ease made all the difference while Jess spent two months in the unit.
Firefighter Jason Jones highlighted the number of times the main route of Pembrokeshire had been closed recently, a concern that has been raised by those opposed to the removal of SCBU.
His son Lewis, now 11 week-old, spent two and a half weeks at Withybush after a week in Singleton.
Of the closure Jason said: “I think it’s an absolute joke. It’s crazy, at the end of the day mothers and babies are going to die. I think they should at least have a stabilisation unit at Withybush.”
These fears were echoed by Carys Jones from Pembroke who was at the party with her 15 month-old twins Hope and Faith who had been born at 30 weeks.
Carys Lewis from Brynberian highlighted how quickly a pregnancy can turn high risk when she told of going into labour suddenly at 26 weeks.
After 10 weeks in Singleton and Withybush 14 and half month old Ifan is doing well, and Carys said during that time being able to visit him twice a day in Haverfordwest made a big difference to the family.
“They were so nice in Haverfordwest, everybody’s so nice – the nurses and the families. We made some good friends. It’s just such a shame it’s closing, it shouldn’t happen,” added Carys.