Doctors have been praised for their role in a successful legal battle against a health board’s attempt to downgrade maternity services temporarily.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board wanted to end consultant-led care at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in north Wales, but were challenged in the high court in a legal action backed by BMA Cymru Wales.
Campaigners and BMA members had sought a judicial review into the decision. Part-way through the litigation the health board decided not to defend the case.
In conceding the legal battle, the health board agreed to pay an interim contribution towards BMA costs of £105,000 and to begin a new consultation into the future of obstetrics and gynaecology services across north Wales.
The framework for the new consultation is now being drawn up by the health board. BMA Cymru Wales has provided input.
Networks of support
Barristers Mark Sutton QC and Nadia Motraghi, who presented the case on behalf of BMA Cymru Wales and campaigners, praised the pivotal role of clinicians in winning the legal battle.
Mr Sutton QC explained: 'Without doubt one of the most crucial factors in the success of this case has been the groups that the BMA has been able to bring together in the judicial review case.
'First and foremost, clinicians strongly supported by their local BMA groups, but also affected members of the public and the Community Health Council.’
Ms Motraghi added: 'At the outset of the case a local patient wished to bring a claim on her own.
'Having now seen the voluminous evidence provided by the health board, and the detailed arguments it made regarding clinical risk, I do not believe that any individual patient, with or without a legal team, would have been able to obtain the clinical evidence needed to rebut the health board’s position, or possibly even to understand it without detailed input from clinicians.'
Judge Mrs Justice Davies, the presiding judge for Wales who heard the high court hearing in Mold, north Wales, also praised solicitor Stephen Meade, working for the BMA, for his efforts to get the health board to disclose all of its relevant information.