A PASSIONATE campaigner hailed a health board’s decision to abandon a legal battle over planned maternity downgrade as the “best news ever”.

Plans to downgrade maternity services at Glan Clwyd Hospital were quashed last week after Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said they would longer seek to contest the judicial review brought against them. Instead, a consultation on the future of services at the Bodelwyddan hospital is to be held.

The change of heart came ahead of what would have been a second hearing to consider the British Medical Association (BMA)’s application for a judicial review into the downgrade plans.

Marsha Davies, mum-of-six and founder of Little Miracles who organised the Rhyl Arena protest against the downgrade, said: “I speak on behalf of all our campaigners in saying we are delighted that the health board are going back to the drawing board.

“My concern is we are still having a public consultation to decide the future of maternity in North Wales and my fear is that the health board will now try to cut maternity in either Wrexham or Bangor.

“We need for sheer safety reasons to retain doctor-led services at all three sites. Although North Wales has gained a victory for now the fight continues to ensure all services are safe.”

Ann Jones, AM for the Vale of Clwyd, commented that the health board’s U-turn over plans to contest acted as a marker to move forward.

She said: “I think that this marks a stage for the board to work hard to regain peoples trust whilst continuing to provide vital public services.”

In May, a high court judge halted any change to maternity services at Glan Clwyd Hospital until she made her judgement on the case.

Darren Millar, AM for Clwyd West and Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Health, hit out that it shouldn’t have taken the threat of a judicial review for a health board to “do the right thing.”

He commented: “If they (NHS bosses) made the right decision in the first place, then tremendous recent heartache for staff, mothers to be and their families could have been avoided.

“This entire process has been a needless waste of time, from a health board that is already creaking under huge pressure and scandal.”

Simon Dean, interim chief executive at BCUHB, stressed that the legal process was ongoing and has not yet concluded.

He said: "After very careful consideration following legal advice and despite significant ongoing concerns about the obstetric service at Glan Clwyd Hospital, we have advised the Court that we no longer seek to contest the judicial review brought against us. The judicial review relates to the Board’s decision in February to temporarily suspend the obstetric service at Glan Clwyd Hospital.

“We expect this consultative process to take place over the summer and we will be making every effort to ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to participate.

“We all acknowledge what a difficult period of uncertainty and worry this has been for our staff and patients, for which we are very sorry.

"We remain extremely concerned about the fragility of the service, which is still short of the required number of doctors across north Wales and we continue to depend on a significant number of locum doctors to staff our rotas. In order to monitor the safety of the service, we conduct shift-by-shift risk assessments to assure ourselves that the service is safe for women."

On Tuesday (July, 7), BCUHB were told by a High Court Judge to pay the costs of those who brought the judicial review of its decision to downgrade maternity services.