A Pembroke Dock mother is kick-starting a campaign to save Withybush Hospital's Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) which is set to be removed under Hywel Dda Health Board plans.

Liz Butland, from Pennar, has nothing but praise for SCBU staff after her son Seth, now two, spent six weeks on the unit when he was born 14 weeks premature.

Liz, along with other mothers, has set a Facebook group which already has more than 5,000 members.

Like minded parents from across the county are now fighting to retain the service.

"Nearly every mother here [in the Facebook group] has said that what these nurses do is second to none," said Liz.

"They can't close it, so many people across the county want it, and want to get their voices heard. There are so many mothers saying 'without SCBU my child wouldn't be here today'. It's saved so many lives, without it how many lives will be lost?" added Liz.

Liz has also been busy preparing a petition which is being handed out across the county.  She hopes to get as many signatures as possible to present at Hywel Dda's public meeting next month.

Hywel Dda said that the unit is not up to national standards and it intends to develop a level two neo-natal unit at Glangwili but Liz argues that the facilities are sufficient to do the job well, and should even be improved.

"At the time Seth was in SCBU I wasn't driving and my husband couldn't get time off work, I'd have had to catch a train or bus to Carmarthen - price of travelling alone would be phenomenal. If you have other children you'd have to find care before hand as well.

"I fully support that they want to build a level two unit but we just want something closer to home," added Liz.

Anyone who can distribute petitions, particularly in the north of the county, can contact Liz via the Save Withybush S.C.B.U Facebook group.

A demonstration is planned later this month, jointly with SWAT, and there is also an online petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the-scbu-at-withybush-hospital.


Comments on Hywel Dda's plans can be made at www.hywelddahb.wales.nhs.uk/Consultation.


Moving stories of babies saved by Withybush baby unit

The Save Withybush S.C.B.U Facebook group features scores of moving stories from Pembrokeshire families whose children were saved by Withybush SCBU.

Wends Luke wrote: "My daughter was born at just under 28 weeks. She weighed 2lbs 1/2oz, at the time SCBU Withybush was redecorating and was closed to admissions, we ended up having to go to Singleton as it was the closest available bed. Eight and a half weeks of travelling was horrendous and very, very tiring. Nearly three hours of travelling each day for the first 4.5 weeks and luckily she was able to be transferred to Glangwili for the last 4 weeks.

"It cost us a fortune in fuel and that was nine years ago. So I dread to think how much it would cost now. On the plus side she received superb care and she is now happy and healthy.

"No parents should ever be out in this situation. We need all of our local SCBU units open!"

Two of Bev Robinson's children spent time at SCBU, she writes: "No one prepares you for premature birth or giving birth to a poorly child. The staff were amazing. Not just because they nursed my poorly babies back to health but because they were a support network for us too.

"Our second son was also born at 35 weeks but this time by emergency c-section. Would he have survived if we'd had to be transferred by ambulance to West Wales Hospital? I'm not sure and I'm very thankful I didn't have to find out. To close this unit will be detrimental to our community and to all those unborn babies and families out there!"

Diane Griffiths said: "My son was forced to be born five weeks prem at 10lb 1oz, if it wasn't for the wonderful work of SCBU, for three long weeks they battled to save my son's life, he definitely wouldn't be here. More precious lives will be lost if SCBU closes."

"I have first hand experience, Ryan was born six weeks early and extremely poorly, he was resuscitated three times in 24 hours and in intensive care on a ventilator for 12 days, it is the worst possible experience a parent can through, but thanks to all the dedicated nurses and doctors on the unit they help you see light at the end of the tunnel. I'm  quite sure that Ryan wouldn't be with us today if it wasn't for the SCBU team," adds Emma Price.

Stacy Johns writes: "It would of been so tough on us if SCBU hadn't been in WIthybush. I was so ill we would of been separated. The staff are so fantastic there."

• Have your say: Write to the address on page 2 or email wtnews@westerntelegraph.co.uk


MP: 'This plan cannot be allowed to go forward'


Commenting on the recent news that the Special Care Baby Unit is threatened under the Health Boards latest proposals, Stephen Crabb MP said:

“There is a deep sense of outrage throughout Pembrokeshire at this latest proposal from Hywel Dda Health Board for cutting away local services. There are hundreds of families across our County who can testify to the critical life-saving work of the baby unit at Withybush. This plan cannot be allowed to go forward.

“The Health Board thinks that using the August holiday period to release news about this will minimise local opposition. There needs to be a strong and united reaction from Pembrokeshire to resist the proposal.

“Myself and the local AMs will be using the County Show as an opportunity to help mobilise public support through a petition which will feed into the consultation. I have already been contacted by many parents who cannot believe that this plan is being seriously considered.”