Withybush 'PACU' unit remains open for local children

Hywel Dda University Health Board is restating its commitment to maintain the current opening hours of the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush Hospital from 10am-10pm, as they are now - although it is facing renewed and significant workforce challenges at consultant level.
There are long standing difficulties in recruiting paediatric consultants across the UK, and there are vacancies in all Hywel Dda hospitals, with continued efforts to recruit into them.
There is a particular problem in Pembrokeshire during the next few months as a retirement, maternity leave and annual leave requirement coincide.
PACU at Withybush Hosital, in Haverfordwest, is currently open 10am – 10pm and remains open as usual this week.
The University Health Board is reassuring local families that they can continue to access services as they do now and need make no changes to how they access care.
The health board has appointed a temporary locum consultant, and continues to try to attract more in the interim of any substantive appointments.
This will help to ensure a paediatric consultant presence continues at the hospital during day time working hours as well as on-call consultant support within 30 minutes of the hospital up until 10pm.
Discussions with clinicians are still ongoing but it is likely, in line with original service change plans and in light of recommendations from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, that the overnight on-call rota will be merged with Carmarthenshire’s so there will be one serving the south of the Hywel Dda area.
Clinical Director for Child and Adolecent Health Dr Simon Fountain Polley said: “We know how important our paediatric services are to our local communities, and we share that concern to provide the best and most accessible care that we can. Despite some challenges with availability of paediatric consultants, we are working hard to maintain the current PACU opening hours at Withybush Hospital.
“Our paediatric middle grade doctors and nurses will continue to be able to offer the treatment and care as they do currently, supported by consultant input and expertise.”
Together with GP and community based care, Withybush PACU provides the vast majority of hospital care required for children in Pembrokeshire, with about 75% of those referred into the unit being treated there and not needing to be transferred to another hospital.
PACU continues to provide care for children with sudden onset of pain, high temperatures, sickness, infections, or requirements for dressings, blood tests, x-rays or scans.
The health board will keep the staffing situation under close monitoring and review.
Paediatric consultant vacancies continue to be advertised with one applicant scheduled to be interviewed in early December and the health board is speaking to potential recruits to demonstrate the benefits of working in Withybush and the wider paediatric team.

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