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EDITIONS
Monday, 23 September, 2002, 07:17 GMT 08:17 UK
Child neurosurgery debate hots up
Child receives examination from doctor
West Wales children may have to receive care at Cardiff
Proposals to concentrate children's neurosurgery in Cardiff are being scrutinised by health bosses who fear other parts of Wales could lose out.

Neurosurgery treats disorders of the nervous system including diseases of the head, brain and spine.

Under the plan, Morriston Hospital in Swansea, would lose its children's neuro unit under the Specialised Health Services Commission for Wales plans to re-locate treatment to the capital.

Signatures from 103,738 people - mainly parents - were on a petition which called on the Welsh Assembly to scrap the plan.

Neurology condition annual prevalence, south Wales
Brain tumours: 12
Epilepsy: 1,804
Severe epilepsy: 361
Cerebral palsy: 902
Dyslexia: 4,510

Specialised Health Services Commission for Wales review of children's tertiary services (May 2002)

Later on Monday, Swansea NHS Trust will decide its response to the proposal, which would see its 50 annual operations end.

It fears children's lives could be put at risk.

The Morriston unit provides surgery and care for children from across west Wales.

The Specialised Health Services Commission's recommendation is just one in a wide-ranging plan to improve care for children with rare illnesses.

It believes a move to Cardiff will improve services because of easier access to cancer services and intensive care.

Parents' campaign

But it has led to fierce opposition across the region.

Parents believe moving all Morriston's paediatric neurosurgery would instead diminish services.

Their petition - handed in by the South Wales Evening Post newspaper - was three times larger than the weightiest ever received by Welsh Assembly ministers.

Health Minister Jane Hutt said she recognised the strength of feeling in the area and reassured worried parents the document would be considered.

Balancing act

It is a clear case of two opposing views trying to reach the same goal.

The health commission predicts an increase in instances of neurological impairments like cerebral palsy, creating a bigger need for specialised services.

It wants better rehabilitation services in south Wales.

But the Welsh Assembly will have to balance its experts' recommendation with parents' fears.


More from south west Wales
See also:

20 May 02 | Health
08 Feb 02 | Health
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