PEMBROKESHIRE patients, pressure groups and politicians who have fought to keep the Special Care Baby Unit at Withybush Hospital have reacted with dismay to the latest blow to their campaign.

On Tuesday, a special panel gave backing to a new neonatal development at Carmarthen which would see the axe fall on the SCBU at Withybush Hospital.

But the final decision will not be made until after Christmas, once Hywel Dda Health Board provides further details of its plans for maternity services across the region.

Liz Butland, a Pembroke Dock mum who has campaigned against any closure of the SCBU, told the Milford Mercury: “It really doesn’t look good.

“It’s very upsetting, not just for me but for the whole of the county.

“It just feels like that they haven’t heard our voices, they have just heard the plans of Hywel Dda.”

Liz said she held out little hope of the SCBU now having a long-term future at Withybush.

“This delay, I feel it’s just that, a delay. It seems inevitable that we will lose the SCBU.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire Assembly Member Paul Davies was the first to his feet in the Assembly after the health minister’s statement.

He said: “It seems it’s clear that calls to save Withybush Hospital’s special care baby unit have fallen on deaf ears.

“This Labour government still appears to advocate a closure that many believe would be both dangerous and unsafe.

“There are deep concerns surrounding the potential axing of this unit – not least the effect it will have on an already strained ambulance service, the lack of suitable transport services within our communities, and the knock-on effect on other services at the hospital.”

Stephen Crabb, the MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said he was very disappointed.

“Although no firm plans were confirmed, it is clear that the Welsh Government will be centralising specialist baby care services at one site in the Hywel Dda region.

“This leaves SCBU in Withybush Hospital in the same uncertain position.

“Although the minister explained that he would make a final decision after Christmas, having asked for more information, this announcement will be unsettling for local people.

“As a long-standing campaigner to save this vital service for our community, I remain anxious that the decision has effectively been taken to close the unit at Withybush.

“I hope that the further information he receives will convince the minister not to push forward with such a closure.”