A PUBLIC watchdog which scrutinises decisions made by Hywel Dda University Health Board has said it does not have worries about plans to change maternity services at Withybush Hospital.

The Hywel Dda Community Heath Council, which acts as a voice for patients and the public in west Wales, said it has been assured the health board’s plans will mean midwives are available 24 hours a day.

Confidential documents obtained by the Western Telegraph showed Hywel Dda plans to change the “model of care” used at Withybush’s Midwifery Led Unit, which provides maternity care in Pembrokeshire.

In a statement to the press, the community health council said it “has sought assurances from Hywel Dda University Health Board regarding maternity services at Withybush Hospital.

“We have been assured that the maternity unit will be open 24/7 and midwives will be available 24 hours a day to support women who choose to deliver in the unit at whatever time that may be.

“We have been informed that they are speaking to staff in relation to working as an integrated team with the community midwives.”

The CHC chairman Mansell Bennett added: “the CHC will continue to monitor women’s and children’s services throughout the three counties on behalf of the public.”

As revealed by the Western Telegraph this week, the changes to maternity services mean that midwives would be on-call outside normal working hours, and would have to meet women in labour at the hospital after being contacted by them.

The health board has said the model they have proposed will still technically be a 24/7 midwifery service.

Assembly member for Preseli-Pembrokeshire, Paul Davies, has been questioning the proposals, after having previously taken the first minister to task about them in the Senedd.

Mr Davies challenged Mark Drakeford during first minister’s questions on Tuesday, July 2, and highlighted that the First Minister had categorically stated in the Assembly on March 19 in relation to maternity services at Withybush Hospital that “there are no proposals of any sort to make a change in the service provided there.”

Western Telegraph:

Commenting after FMQs, Paul Davies said: “I fail to see how Mark Drakeford and Vaughan Gething can say the suggestion of moving from a 24/7 staffed unit to one where expectant mothers have to ring ahead to say they are coming to Withybush Hospital is anything other than another service reduction.”

“What would happen if the member of staff called out had a transport issue while travelling to Withybush Hospital at night? Yet again the Hywel Dda University Health Board are looking to provide reduced levels of service to Pembrokeshire people, and clearly the First Minister is in denial about it.

“I have been accused of scaremongering but I will continue to fight for services at Withybush Hospital.”

“The people of Pembrokeshire and indeed Wales deserve better.”