Families urge public to return consultation documents
9:00am Saturday 27th October 2012 in County News
As the consultation over the future of health services in west Wales draws to a close, two Pembrokeshire families have come forward to underline the vital importance of retaining a Special Care Baby Unit at Withybush Hospital.
One of the babies saved weighed just 1lb, 11oz.
If plans by Hywel Dda Health Board are approved, the SCBU at Withybush will close, in favour of a new level two neo-natal unit at Carmarthen.
The board says the unit will be better than the existing facility, but young patients and their families will face a round-journey of 60 miles from Haverfordwest and much further again from more rural parts of the county.
Now two families whose children have been saved by the SCBU are urging people to return the consultation documents and stress the need to retain the facility at Withybush.
The Barber and Evans family from Cilgerran raised £4,000 for the underthreat SCBU after it saved the life of baby Amelia Evans born at just 26 weeks and four days – weighing a tiny 1lb 11oz.
And the Thomas-Hill family from Sageston say they fear for what would have happened if they had to travel to Carmarthen or Swansea (see next story).
Amelia is now a bouncing nine-and-a-half months old and her mum Emily Barber, dad Lee Evans and granny Francine Barber have pulled people together to raise money for the Haverfordwest ward and one at Singleton, Swansea, which received a cheque for £1,000.
Emily was suffering from renal colic which meant Amelia had to be born for her own safety on January 2nd. She was stabilised at Withybush before spending two weeks at Singleton.
Amelia and Emily returned to Haverfordwest, spending nine more weeks at SCBU and Emily has highly praised the staff and the care they received. One of the nurses, Sarah Berry, even became Amelia’s godmother.
“Without SCBU she wouldn’t have been with us and they were brilliant here,” said Emily.
She adding that plans to close the unit are: “absolutely ridiculous”.
“I don’t see how they can justify it,” she said.
“I just think, how many babies have got to die before they realise they’ve made a mistake? That’s what it’s going to come to. They say it’s because it’s not up to standard here but if they’re going to spend all that money making Carmarthen bigger, I don’t see why they can’t spend that money here,” she added.
Lee, along with some family and friends, cycled a massive 116 miles in 14 hours, from Withybush to Singleton and back.
Francine also held a number of fundraising events at her pub The Mason Arms, Cilgerran, including a darts marathon, auction and table top sale.
SCBUs intend to buy four high flow oxygen drivers which will help babies with breathing problems.
In support of the Withybush unit, Francine said: “The travelling distances for families at the far end of Pembrokeshire can be difficult. Emily needed back-up from everyone else and it was a 55-minute drive for us to here, she wouldn’t have had the family back-up that you need in Carmarthen.”