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Withybush Hospital, Wales

Withybush judicial review fails 10 July 2014 – the fight must go on
A judicial review it was hoped would stall health board plans to remove a number for services for women and children from Withybush Hospital has failed.

Justice Hickinbottom, who heard the four day judicial review last month into the processes carried out by Hywel Dda Health Board in its preparation of plans for service centralisation at Glangwili, handed down his verdict this morning.

He had also heard arguments relating to Llanelli’s Prince Philip Hospital as well as examining the Health Minister’s role in the changes.

Lead campaigner Dr Chris Overton, chairman of SWAT, said: “We must remember that this is not an endorsement of the Health Board and Health Ministers plans for service change. It was simply a legal argument on whether the Health Board followed the rules and on the powers of the Health Minister.”

He is encouraging residents to now start writing to the Human Rights and Equality Commission.

Report from Withybush Hospital demonstration 18th June 2014

On June 18th up to 1000 protesters gathered outside the Senedd, Cardiff, to oppose planned Welsh Government changes to services at Withybush Hospital in Pembrokeshire.

The Save Withybush Action Team (SWAT) and other protesters travelled to Cardiff in an attempt to get Health Minister Mark Drakeford to listen to growing fears that lives will be lost if health service changes go ahead.

Plans to move consultant obstetrics, full paediatric cover and the special care baby unit from Withybush and replacing them with a three bed midwife led unit have met with opposition from clinicians, residents and opposition politicians. A Judicial Review is currently underway.

Politicians and speakers were united in their opposition to these plans. One speaker pointed out that the changes being imposed on Withybush is part of a wider agenda which aims at decimation and privatisation of the NHS as a whole. While it is excellent that the political parties are united in their opposition, it is only the growing strength of the people themselves that can guarantee victory. Bringing a message of solidarity from the Lewisham campaign, the same speaker led the rousing cheer “The NHS is Our NHS! Save the NHS!”

from Stuart Monro

The story so far…
We have been contacted by members of Save Withybush Action Team (SWAT) in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
The hospital is facing closure of A&E, maternity and many other services.

withybush3 withybush2
The demo on 26th January was 1000 strong – see bbc report here.

Chris Overton, the chair of the Save Withybush Action Team (SWAT), said the turnout showed the strength of feeling, adding it was “unbelievable” that Health Minister Mark Drakeford thought the new system would be a safe service.
“I’ve coined a new phrase, the ‘Sutton test’ – after Kate Sutton from Johnston near Haverfordwest who lost her baby and nearly died herself,” he said.
“I ask whether someone in a similar position will be safe when the new system is in place. I don’t think they would be.
“I think everyone is concerned more and more across the county that these services are going to be cut.”
Mr Overton, who is a consultant obstetrician at Withybush, said of the health board’s plans: “They are making a very foolish mistake and people are going to lose their lives.”

Message of solidarity sent from the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign
Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign sends our total support and we congratulate you on your demonstration today. Exactly one year ago, 26th January 2013, 25,000 people marched in Lewisham in South London in opposition to the Government’s plans to close down all the acute services at Lewisham Hospital. So similar to your fight, we were facing closure of maternity services, the A&E department and all acute medical and surgical services for children and for adults, including the frail and elderly. With a tremendous sense of solidarity across our community – including Lewisham pensioner forum, our ‘Buggy Army’, faith groups, health staff, GPs and local politicians – we marched in defence of the hospital and the right to accessible, safe and high quality hospital care. The very next week the Government ignored our community voice and decided to close Lewisham. We vowed to fight on until victory, buoyed up by the strength of our community campaign. Eventually we have won, with the Government losing its appeal in October against our Judicial Review victory in July. Lewisham Hospital has – for now – been saved!

We know what you are going through: the fear and the anger at the prospect of losing your essential hospital services; we faced lies, misinformation, deceits and a disgraceful failure to assess the health needs of the community – especially vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, problems in pregnancy, and those with mental health problems, and disabilities who were totally ignored. We faced denials about the risks to health caused by increased travel times following closures of local services. Consultation was dishonest and decisions had already been made.
We hope that our victory lends encouragement to your endeavour. We send solidarity to your demonstration today and wish you every success in your campaign in every quarter, including your own Judicial Review application. We hope your health staff and doctors, and your trade unions link arms with your community and local groups. We join you from 250 miles away in saying: Save Withybush Hospital – Save Our NHS!
Thank you
Tony O’Sullivan, Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign, (children’s doctor, Lewisham)

See this video about their campaign from Stuart Monro

Click here to see their website and support their struggle – they are having a demonstration on 26 January 2014.

Save Lewisham Hospital sends solidarity and greetings to the demonstration.

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