LOCAL politicians have reacted with dismay to the news of changes to maternity care at Withybush Hospital, revealed by the Western Telegraph today.

A confidential letter and an attached briefing document obtained by the Western Telegraph says that the health board plans to change the model of care used by the Midwifery Led Unit, reducing the current 24/7 staffed service at the hospital to a model where staff work on an on-call basis outside normal working hours.

In the letter, the health board claims there will be no change in the provision of service, describing it as still being a 24/7 service, as midwives and support staff will still be available at all hours.

But the changes would mean that midwives and health care support workers would not continue to work from the maternity unit after hours as they currently do.

Paul Davies, assembly member for Preseli-Pembrokeshire said the proposed changes were beyond belief.

“Yet again the Hywel Dda University Health Board are planning to reduce services at Withybush Hospital. To suggest that changing from a 24/7 staffed unit to an on-call system overnight will give a better service is quite frankly beyond belief.

“Do the health board think the people of Pembrokeshire are stupid?” he said.

Western Telegraph:

“An expectant mother does not want the worry of having to ring a midwife who then has to travel to Withybush Hospital if her baby is being born at night.

“40,000 people signed a petition against previous unwanted changes being proposed by the Health Board.

“They totally ignored this and are ploughing on with their plans to reduce Withybush Hospital to a Community Hospital against the will of the people of Pembrokeshire.

“The health board’s current proposals are simply the latest in a long string of attempts to continuously remove services at Withybush Hospital in recent years, and, to be perfectly frank, the local people are sick and tired of having to fight to maintain essential services at their local hospital,” he added.

Western Telegraph:

Preseli-Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb said: “Local people will be deeply dismayed by this latest development.

“Every appeal that has been made to Ministers at the Assembly to protect services in Pembrokeshire have come to nothing.

“Welsh Government in Cardiff has basically washed its hands of this issue and are sitting back while the Health Board does its dirty work of cutting local services.”

The health board is currently consulting staff about the plans, and hopes to make the changes to maternity services by November 4 at the latest.