Stand up and be counted - 2
11:53am Wednesday 3rd October 2012 in Letters
ALONG with many other concerned citizens I attended the Hywel Dda Health Board Consultation evening at Haverfordwest. Since then I have been reflecting on the evening’s performance.
I had prepared questions based on the Board’s proposals and preferred options, but on arrival was presented with a pro-forma inviting one question only. Such a structured approach gave the board control over the evening.
The question sheets were handed to an independent chairman who thereby controlled the input.
Fortunately, he relented to a limited degree and allowed some questions from the floor but to attract his attention proved somewhat difficult.
Subsequently, I have been informed he is a member of a consultancy group employed by the board. So much for independence.
Responses and questions from medical specialists in the audience clearly seemed to imply the board had not given due importance to their input during the planning stage. The board claims that the secondary care structural changes would only happen after the primary care changes were in place, but they talk of three to five years in times of ever increasing financial restraints.
It might happen in Pembrokeshire because the Milford Haven Centre will open in 2012 and Crymych is not far, behind but these initiatives were taken five to eight years ago.
Elsewhere the new centres will take many years to materialise.
However, change in Pembrokeshire could be the forerunner of change elsewhere in Dyfed.
It also became clear that the board, along with other boards in Wales, is being forced, through financial restraints imposed by the Westminster Government and the Welsh Government, to reduce NHS secondary care provision.
If it really is a case of financial restrictions controlling the process then, in my opinion and in the interest of fairness, every general hospital should become a centre of excellence. The only other alternative is to continue with the status quo with savings found elsewhere in the governmental budgets.
But what would the people of East Carmarthenshire and Llanelli think of travelling to Haverfordwest? They have the option of choosing Swansea and Morriston, but that would have to be financed by Hywel Dda.
So perhaps this is the real reason of favouring Glangwili and Prince Phillip at the expense of Withybush and the health needs of the people of Pembrokeshire.
Hywel Dda need to accept that trust is a two-way process but they have yet to earn my trust.
JOHN COLE Westhill Avenue