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'Painful wait' for miscarriage support on Welsh NHS

A mother who has lost four babies in four years is calling for greater support from the Welsh NHS for women who suffer recurrent miscarriages.

Jessica Evans said she suffered a “harrowing experience” after she was refused a referral to a specialist miscarriage consultant in Wales.

Ms Evans was able to access the specialist services in England.

The Welsh Government said it expected health boards to provide services “as close to home as possible”.

Ms Evans, from Llangollen, Denbighshire, said: “Women need to have exhausted options in Wales and need the support of their consultant before they stand any chance of getting a referral to specialised services across the border.

“This is a harrowing experience for parents and can take a painfully long time.

“You just get the basic blood tests and scans, but there is no wrap around care and no support in subsequent pregnancies.”

She said she was referred to a gynaecologist by her GP in Wales but added that this leads to “inconsistent treatment” because the doctors are not specialists in miscarriage.

Ms Evans was able to have treatment at a centre in Coventry after she registered as a temporary patient in Shropshire, where she works, after she was refused a “reassurance” scan while pregnant with her son, who is now three.

According to charity Tommy’s, which runs the Coventry centre, one in four women will experience a miscarriage and 40% of those will experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Jane Brewin, the charity’s CEO, said: “It’s really important for people to have access both to support and also to investigations about why their miscarriage happened because it’s much more painful and much more psychologically damaging than a lot of people realise.”

Some women in north Wales are able to access the services via a referral to Liverpool Women’s Hospital, but those living in mid and south Wales have no pathway available to them.

A spokesperson for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) said: “Referrals for specialist treatment for women who have recurring miscarriages are made on an individual, case by case basis depending on the results of clinical investigation.”

Geoff Ryall-Harvey, of the Community Health Council, said it received many examples of reluctance by doctors to refer patients to England.

“BCUHB has substantial contracts with specialist services mainly in Liverpool, it should be easy for people to go across. I would call for Welsh patients to have the same rights as English patients to choose where they are treated,” he said

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We expect health boards to provide services according to NICE guidelines and ensure women have access to services with the right level of expertise as close to home as possible to minimise any preventable causes.”

A petition started by Ms Evans has gathered more than 2,500 signatures and she hopes to meet with Health Secretary Vaughan Gething in September.

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BBC News – Health