CARE for the sickest babies born at Glan Clwyd Hospital will be transferred to England.
Angry protestors have hit out at health officials after longer-term intensive care for babies and intensive care for babies born at or under 27 weeks will be moved to Arrowe Park, the Wirral.
Under Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board plans the hospital will continue to provide initial stabilisation, immediate short-term intensive care as well as Special Care Baby Units and a high dependency unit.
Health bosses have said the changes are vital for safety and quality of care with the service falling short of UK standards introduced by the National
Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in 2010 and say only 36 babies a year would need to be treated outside North Wales.
Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones said: “The meeting of the board was, in my view, little more than an exercise to rubber stamp the plans, it merely played lip service to scrutiny as the proposals were passed unanimously with few searching questions asked.
“I am deeply disappointed by the health board’s decision following what has been a hard fought battle to save the unit.”
The health board said staff would be supported to retain the ability to resuscitate, stabilise and provide short-term intensive care prior to transport by the specialist Neonatal Transport service which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Thousands signed petitions against the plans and 71 per cent of respondents to an open questionnaire disagreed with the proposals.
Shadow Minister for Health, Darren Millar AM, said: “This is NHS bosses playing judge, jury and executioner on local healthcare across North Wales.
“Our region has been sentenced to unwanted NHS reform that will mean thousands travelling further for essential care.
“This is an injustice that makes no sense and won’t be forgotten.
“It is simply not fair to force any patient – particularly families with newborns – to travel many miles for treatment.”
The British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwifery had also opposed the plans.
Secretary of the Cuddles charity, John Hewitt, of Llanfair TH, whose baby Moli was born two months early at the hospital in 2011 said the intensive care unit was essential.
He said: “ This is going to put babies at risk when they get transferred. It will put increased pressure on the parents.
“There will be skills gap and it will affect the future of Wales.
“This is a disgrace, this is about lives. Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board do not understand what these babies and their families go through. “When babies are moved about it decreases the chance of survival.
“Cuddles are a charity that has supported families in cases of this nature for 30 years.
“Betsi Cadwaladr did not listen to the people in this so called consultation. It was a just a facade.
“Betsi Cadwaladr even admitted that Arrowe Park was not up to standard so why is Welsh money being invested over the border so that they can get up to scratch and not us?”