News Roundup [abridged Versions Appear In The Paper Journal]

Children's hospital in Cardiff could drain resources from rest of Wales

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 04 May 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1056
  1. Roger Dobson
  1. Abergavenny

    Consultant paediatricians in Swansea have urged the Welsh Assembly to investigate funding of children's health services in Wales.

    The paediatricians have also warned that a new children's hospital for Wales in Cardiff, for which former England cricketer Ian Botham and actress Catherine Zeta Jones have been raising funds, would drain resources from other parts of the principality.

    Their concerns are that the new hospital will be seen, and treated as, a national hospital for children at the expense of other areas.

    “We are not against Cardiff having a new hospital to unite paediatric services for Cardiff on one site, but we are concerned that it is going to be called the children's hospital for Wales, which will leave people—and politicians—thinking that other areas don't need resources for children's services,” says Dr Dewi Evans, consultant paediatrician at Singleton Hospital, Swansea. “A national hospital would drain resources from other areas of Wales.”

    He added: “One of our concerns is the claim that the hospital will mean an end to children having to go to England for specialist services such as cardiac surgery. Those claims are not true—nothing is going to change.”

    He and his colleagues are worried too about existing funding for paediatric services in Swansea. In a letter to the health services committee of the National Assembly the doctors say that a failure to distribute funds properly is damaging the development of services and could also affect the new medical school in Swansea.

    The letter also outlines fears for some tertiary paediatric services currently under review. “We do not believe that the review is looking at resourcing from a holistic point of view. The Specialised Health Service Commission for Wales's record shows that funding is concentrated virtually totally in the University Hospital of Wales (Cardiff), with little or no money going elsewhere,” it says.

    Dr Evans said, “We are extremely concerned that the review will recommend that some tertiary services for children will be removed from Swansea. It seems odd that at a time when we are reading about billions more pounds for the NHS, we in Swansea are in danger of losing services.”

    The Noah's Ark Children's Hospital for Wales Appeal has been raising money for the children's hospital, and Botham completed a charity walk around Wales at the weekend, which was reported to have raised between £600 000 ($875 000; €970 000) and £900 000, although the charity said it was still counting.

    The appeal has now raised around £4m of the £5m needed for the first phase of the hospital. Once the target amount is reached, the Welsh Assembly will release more than £4m in funding for the second phase.

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