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Welsh Liberal Democrats call for improvements in maternity and neonatal services

June 19, 2012 1:26 PM

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams, will this week lead a debate calling for significant improvements to be made to maternity and neonatal services in Wales.

A letter from the Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas, to the Public Accounts Committee, reported that practices in maternity services across Wales varied unacceptably and financial information was generally not collected or used.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have tabled a motion to be debated on Wednesday that calls on the Welsh Government to provide strong, strategic leadership to Local Health Boards throughout Wales to ensure that maternity and neonatal services improve. The motion also calls for the Welsh Government to ensure that any reviews that are taken by Local Health Boards are endorsed by the Neonatal Network and the All Wales Implementation Group.

Kirsty Williams commented:

"The Auditor General's evidence to the Finance Committee painted a consistent picture of a service in desperate need of improvement. Despite numerous investigations and strategies, there is very little evidence that significant progress has been made. Patients are not receiving acceptable treatment, which is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the Welsh Government to look into this as a matter of urgency.

"In January, four health boards - Betsi Cadwaladr, Cardiff and the Vale, Hywel Dda, and Cwm Taf all had shortfalls in the number of midwives required to meet standards. Worryingly, not only are some health boards not meeting the recommended staffing level, but most of them could not provide the evidence that staff had the necessary mandated training.

"Another worrying theme in the Auditor General's evidence was that services across Wales varied unacceptably depending on where a patient lives. The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that every woman in Wales, irrespective of her location or social background, should have access to safe and high quality maternity and neonatal care. This is something that the Welsh Government must strive for, because at the moment it is clearly not happening.

"It is the responsibility of the Welsh Government to hold Local Health Boards to account, but at the moment any sort of meaningful mechanism to do this is seriously lacking. The Welsh Government's latest strategy, 'A strategic vision for maternity services in Wales', is a welcome first step, but it doesn't clarify how the Government will either help or monitor health boards to make sure that they meet targets."