Welsh Government must take more responsibility for “known” issues with Swansea Bay maternity services, says local MS Sioned Williams
Sioned Williams, Member of Senedd for South Wales West, says “questions must be asked” of Welsh Government following the publication of a damning report into maternity and neonatal services at Swansea Bay Health Board.
Following an inspection of antenatal, labour, and postnatal care, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) inspectors identified “significant patient safety concerns”, and issued an immediate assurance letter to the health board which details actions.
While staff at the unit were commended for their hard work, staffing levels were found to be unsafe – an issue which Ms Williams points out was flagged as ‘critical’ in June this year. The HIW inspection was carried out in September, three months later.
The issues raised in the report – which range from safe storage of medicine, overall cleanliness, and a lack of measures to ensure babies are kept safe – make for an “extremely distressing” read, says Ms Williams.
Ms Williams has extended her thanks to the “brave” patients and staff who have spoken up on such an important topic.
Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd for South Wales West, said:
“From staffing to storage, from training to cleanliness – the wide and serious catalogue of concerns raised in the HIW report into Swansea Bay UHB maternity services makes for an extremely distressing read.
“Even before this report was published, concerns about the maternity and neonatal services in Swansea Bay health board were known – certainly as far back as November last year, and Welsh Government must disclose the point at which they were first made aware of issues with these services. Certainly, staffing pressures were flagged as ‘critical’ in June this year in a meeting between Welsh Government and the health board. Therefore, questions have to be asked why it has taken Welsh Government until now to act, by escalating government intervention into the service.
“I wish to extend my thanks to all the brave patients and staff who have spoken up, and send my deepest condolences to families that have been impacted by the issues highlighted within the report. All my constituents want is for it to be acknowledged how scary it's been for them to try and decide the safest place to have their baby, and to get reassurance that the maternity unit is a safer place now.
“When I put these questions to the Health Minister earlier this week, I was told the responsibility for communicating this lies with the health board, but Welsh Government must step up and take responsibility for their part in this sorry saga – what did they know and when, why did it take so long for them to act, and why do they refuse to accept responsibility for turning things around. After all, the responsibility for health ultimately lies with the Welsh Government.”