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Staff sickness sees baby care unit cuts.

Byline: STEVE BAGNALL

Specialist bed numbers down as health bosses deny 'backdoor changes' A STAFF shortage has shut beds at a special care baby unit.

The number of intensive care cots at the Wrexham Maelor hospital's baby unit has been reduced from three to two, and high dependency cots from six to four.

It sparked fears health bosses were reducing levels of special care "by the back door".

AM Llyr Huws Gruffydd expressed concerns, as it comes during a review of proposals which could see the closure of one or two special care baby units at either Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, Ysbyty Gwynedd or the Maelor.

The review has already sparked an angry backlash from patients and the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board promised to carry out a review before any decisions.

But yesterday the board insisted sickness and maternity leave was the reason for the special care cots currently being closed at AM Llyr Huws Gruffydd the Wrexham unit.

They said all cots at the Maelor, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Bangor, work on a "flexible basis" depending on levels of demand and patient safety was the priority the health board insisted. Parents and GPs have expressed their opposition to any potential downgrading of baby and maternity units fearing the lives of mothers and children could be placed at risk.

Mr Gruffydd said: "I have been approached by concerned parents about the reduction. "I am concerned this is downsizing through the back door while a review is still being conducted."

Conservative AM Darren Millar said: "There is a shortage of baby care cots in Wales. It is something we have to get to grips with.

"I'm sure there are some who may say this is back door move to pre-empt decisions to be made in November, but I'm not going to say that."

Dr. Brendan Harrington, Chief of Staff, Children and Young people said: "Cots within the Special Care Baby Units are used flexibly on a regular basis. This is to respond to local need, and also the skills mix that is on the ward at any one time.

"At the moment, in Wrexham we do have staff sickness and staff on maternity leave. Our over-riding principle is to ensure safety at all times and our Special Care Baby Units are manned at safe staffing levels.

"However, it is important to stress that if normal cots need to be used as High Dependency or Intensive Care cots at any time, this can be arranged by bringing in additional staff or by changing staff rotas to ensure the ward has the correct mix of staff. This flexibility is part of our normal working practice" British Medical Association Clwyd North Division chairman Phil Banfield said: "Wrexham and Glan Clwyd SCBUs have been prone to closures because of staff shortages in the past.

"It has always been the view of the BMA that there need to be neo-natal units at the three North Wales hospitals.

"We want to stop babies going out to Arrowe Park on the Wirral unnecessarily which costs money."

stevebagnall@dailypost.co.uk

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 11, 2011
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