Following months of consultation over controversial potential changes to health care, the views of the public, clinicians and others have been collated and analysed for Hywel Dda Health Board in a document exclusively obtained by the Western Telegraph.

It is understood that how the proposed changes to health services will be implemented are due to be outlined at an extraordinary health board meeting in Carmarthen on January 15th.

The report by Opinion Research Services (ORS) indicates a generally positive response to proposed changes to health services across the health board area but very strong opposition to some proposals in Pembrokeshire.

The ORS 175 page report, 'Balancing Opinions: a report by Opinion Research Services December 21 2012', states that there is no "right interpretation" of all the consultation elements.

It adds: "Ultimately, an overall interpretation of the consultation will depend upon the executive and non-executive members of the Health Board itself".

According to the report 4,422 people filled in the open consultation questionnaire either online or in hard copy but does not match the population profile for Hywel Dda - unlike the weighted household survey.

ORS state that Pembrokeshire is "very over-represented" by the open consultation questionnaire "due to its high response rate - 54% of responses but only 32% of the Hywel Dda population".

Of 5,000 household surveys, sent to randomly selected homes across the healthboard area (managed by local authority to ensure the correct proportion of addresses was sampled) only 697 or 14% were returned.

During the formal consultation 274 written submissions were received from professional, political, interest, voluntary and community groups as well as residents and staff.

A low turnout to staff focus groups was a surprise but "it was surmised that this was due to a widespread belief that the decisions have already been made".

The belief that Hywel Dda is "simply 'going through the motions' with its consultation" was stated.

The health board has been considering feedback on its proposed changes since October 2012.

A spokesman said: “We’d like to make it absolutely clear that Pembrokeshire responses will not be given less consideration in either household survey or the open questionnaire. Every response will be considered.

“In terms of best practice, the 14%, or nearly 700 response rate, is considered reasonable and significant. We must be clear that a consultation must ensure accountability, but due to its very nature cannot be a referendum.”

For more details see this week’s Western Telegraph.