Patients and campaigners who have fought controversial plans to close the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at Withybush Hospital are waiting to hear if their battle has been successful.

Welsh Government health minister Mark Drakeford is due to give a statement to the Assembly on the service changes proposed by Hywel Dda Health Board this afternoon (Tuesday).

The proposal to close the SCBU at Withybush Hospital and centralise specialist care for babies at Carmarthen has been hugely controversial, sparking protests outside the hospital and on the steps of the Senedd.

Mothers who feared their babies would not have survived had it not been for the Withybush facility were among those protesting.

Mr Drakeford had set up a specialist panel to scrutinise the issues raised by Hywel Dda Community Health Council’s referral of the health board’s proposals to the Welsh Government.

The community health council had said it could not support the move to develop the more-specialist neonatal unit in Carmarthen at the expense of the SCBU at Withybush Hospital.

Changes to care at Llanelli were also a stumbling block.

But common ground was found on the closure of two minor injuries units at Tenby and South Pembrokeshire Hospital, Pembroke Dock.

Members of the community health council (CHC) and senior members of the local health board met with members of the panel on Monday, ahead of the minister’s announcement.

Hywel Dda CHC chief officer Ashley Warlow told the Western Telegraph that it had been a long road so far, but the CHC was prepared to continue its efforts.

“This whole process began a long time ago, it’s been many hours of work for many people and I think, as a CHC, we have been fully vindicated in making this referral to the minister.

“We have represented the public fully and taken their views and concerns to the Welsh Government.

“We would want to be fully involved in any further work on these matters, to ensure that the public and patients’ voice continues to be heard.”