The future of health care in Pembrokeshire will be decided today (Tuesday) as Hywel Dda Health Board considers its next steps at an extraordinary meeting.
A report by Opinion Research Services (ORS), dated December 21st, collated and analysed the thousands of surveys and comments from residents across the three counties of the health board and the resulting recommendations will be discussed at a meeting in Carmarthen.
Chief executive Trevor Purt said: “We have undertaken extensive and lengthy engagement during the past two years, and more recently a formal consultation.
“Wehave been considering interim feedback since the close of consultation, along with other evidence, and in light of the challenges the NHS faces.
“We would like to remind members of the public that any changes approved by the board will be made to ensure improved outcomes for our patients and to secure safe and sustainable services for the future across Hywel Dda.
“We will not compromise on patient care.”
The ORS report indicates a general positive response to proposed changes to health services in the health board area - but there was strong opposition to some proposals in Pembrokeshire.
According to the report 4,422 people filled in the open consultation questionnaire either online or by paper copy but this figure does not match the population profile for Hywel Dda – unlike the weighted household survey.
ORS state that Pembrokeshire is “very overrepresented”
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 health board area stratified by local authority to ensure the correct proportion of addresses was sampled in each of the three counties, only 697 or 14% were returned.
Both the household survey and open questionnaire elicited “considerable disagreement” to proposals that could see GPs take over minor injury services instead of at Tenby and South Pembrokeshire minor injury units.
Plans for service changes in Tenby were opposed by 80% of open questionnaire respondents, 62% strongly disagreed, and 59% disagreed in the household survey, 39% strongly.
For South Pembrokeshire minor injuries 78% of open questionnaire respondents disagreed, 58% strongly, compared to household survey results of 57% in disagreement, 38% strongly.
When it came to women and children’s services Glangwili Hospital was the preferred site for household survey respondents – while open questionnaire respondents preferred them at Withybush Hospital.
Participants at the Pembrokeshire focus groups in Newport and Pembroke Dock could support Glangwili as a location but it came with a “strong caveat that the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and some level of paediatric care remains at Withybush Hospital so that babies and children can continue to be stabilised there prior to being transferred to a more specialist unit”.
A proposal to create an orthopaedic centre of excellence at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli, was preferred by the majority of household survey – 62% of the 697 responses.
However, the majority or 58% of the 4,422 open consultation questionnaire preferred the idea of such a facility at Withybush Hospital.
Written submissions were received from 274 professional, political, interest voluntary and community groups as well as views of clinicians have been read and reviewed by the health board and ORS.
A Hywel Dda spokesman said: “We’d like to make it absolutely clear that Pembrokeshire responses will not be given less consideration in either the 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.
“We state again that all feedback, whether it be via the household or open survey, focus group, petition or meeting, has been invaluable and given full consideration.”
The full ORS report is now available at www.hywelddahb.wales.nhs.uk.