9:50am Wednesday 16th January 2013 in Letters
ONCE again we have been presented with a report which seeks to ignore the needs of Pembrokeshire in the determination to centralise provision in Carmarthenshire.
Before being seduced by the glossy charts and colourful graphics which seem to endorse the Health Board’s preferred option, a number of points should be considered: The questionnaires were heavily skewed in favour of Carmarthen, making it very difficult to express alternative opinions. I would congratulate all the local people who made the effort to complete the questionnaires.
Hywel Dda randomly selected 5,000 households to receive targeted questionnaires; although these resembled the open questionnaire in form, they actually had a much earlier submission date (preceding some of the public events, so if you waited for one of the later dates to be fully informed, the questionnaire was invalid). I can’t be the only one to be caught by this.
The response to the household survey was only 697 (14%) in contrast to the 4,422 responses to the ‘open’ consultation, of which 55% came from Pembrokeshire, with a bias in responses towards the over-55s. In an attempt to redress this, some rather dubious weightings have been applied to enable them to claim that the household survey ‘better’ represents the Hywel Dda profile.
We are then told that 72% of households favour paediatric high dependency in Glangwili; but that is 72% of the 76% of 697 respondents who expressed an opinion – 381 replies, as oppose to the 2,432 open responses which favoured Withybush.
Similarly, the 558 household responses favouring Prince Philip for specialist orthopaedics are given greater importance than the 2,565 open responses preferring Withybush.
A substantial sector of the report is devoted to statements from focus groups; but these amounted in total to just 67 people, 29 of whom live in Carmarthenshire.
There is also a lack of transparency as to who makes up some of the groups whose opinions in support of the proposals are expressed.
Are the Hywel Dda-based groups truly cross representational or Carmarthen-centric?
And do some of the professional bodies really understand the nature of rurality?
Centralisation works well in large urban conurbations, but given that the Swanseabased driver who took my late husband to a London hospital had been asked if he could drop something off in Holyhead ‘on the way home,’ it does not inspire confidence.
It is little wonder that there is little confidence in the Hywel Dda proposals or that we in Pembrokeshire feel short-changed by the consultation process.
HEATHER SCAMMELL Castle High Haverfordwest