Back in 2014 the Health Boards in South Wales undertook a large-scale public consultation exercise (South Wales Programme (SWP)) exploring options to address the challenges faced by many hospitals in recruiting and retaining highly skilled staff in certain speciality areas.
The consultation focused on consultant-led obstetrics, paediatrics and emergency medicine which would in future need to be provided at fewer hospitals across South Wales to ensure their sustainability and provide the best possible care for patients.
There were a number of outcomes to the consultation that were significant for the Royal Glamorgan Hospital including changes to the workforce in A&E; development of the hospital as a beacon site for acute medicine and the establishment of a Diagnostic Hub. All of these changes have been fully implemented with benefits for patients already being delivered.
The consultation also determined that there would be changes to Maternity and Paediatric inpatient services at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.
The changes, which will take place later this year, mean that if you are likely to need specialist medical care when you are in labour or if your baby should need specialist neonatal care then this will only be available in the Cwm Taf Health Board area from Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil. This does not mean that we are taking maternity services away from the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.
All antenatal services, clinic appointments, scans and tests in pregnancy will still be available in the Royal Glamorgan Hospital exactly as they are now. The only difference is the services that will be available to you when you go into labour.
Maternity services will still be provided 24 hours a day at Royal Glamorgan Hospital but they will be provided by midwives, and not by doctors. You can choose to have your baby in either hospital, but if you have a complicated pregnancy or need doctor-led care when you are giving birth you will need to deliver at Prince Charles Hospital.
To prepare for the changes, a major expansion is taking place at Prince Charles Hospital. We have invested £6m to increase the size of the special care baby unit there to 19 cots, re-develop two delivery theatres, and create six en-suite delivery rooms to include one birthing pool. There will also be a refurbished Alongside Midwifery Unit which will include four birthing suites with two birthing pools.
Also as part of the changes a new Paediatric Assessment Unit will be established at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital. The unit will operate from 8am to 10pm and services will be provided by a full clinical team, led by Consultants. This new way of working has been successfully tested, with the vast majority of children being treated and discharged home during the hours of the PAU. Once the changes have taken place, the very small minority of children who will need to stay in hospital overnight will be transferred to Prince Charles Hospital or the Children’s Hospital for Wales in Cardiff.
Outside of these hours, minor injuries will continue to be seen and treated in the A&E at Royal Glamorgan Hospital, which is open 24 hours a day. Children suffering a very severe illness or injury will be taken directly by ambulance to the most appropriate hospital.
We have been working closely with our staff on the detailed arrangements to implement the plans, which are designed to help us to deliver the best possible care and develop services which are fit for the future. We also continue to communicate with the public about these changes over the next few months.