Watchdog warns of "severe disadvantage"
8:50am Saturday 2nd February 2013 in News
Pembrokeshire will be “severely disadvantaged” if compromises are not made as Hywel Dda Health Board pushes ahead with its controversial plans for service changes, a patients’ watchdog has said.
The Hywel Dda Community Health Council (CHC) which represents the views of patients across Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire said it was seeking “urgent dialogue”
with the health board to discuss the plans – which include closing Withybush SCBU and minor injuries units in south Pembrokeshire.
Speaking exclusively to the Western Telegraph, CHC chairman Tony Wales said: “We decided to ask for further dialogue and discussion with the chairman and senior managers of the health board in an effort to get them to reconsider some of their decisions and seek some compromise and alternative solutions.
“We are seeking urgent dialogue, trying to get them to reconsider in respect of all the decisions and certainly in the respect of the MIUs and the neonatal.
“Failure to achieve any revisions means we most certainly will refer this matter to the minister.
“In so doing we would hope that the minister would give fair consideration and we would hope that all members of the public, communities, and stakeholders make their objections clearly known.”
Recent adverse weather conditions highlight the difficult geography of the area, with snow cutting off many parts of the county.
Mr Wales said this highlighted the “rurality and remoteness” of the area and the fears that patients might not make it to Withybush in time, let alone Carmarthen.
“We fully agree with the need for safe and sustainable services but what’s the point of having safe and sustainable services if you can’t get there?” he asked.
“We all agree that things can’t continue as they are but some of the decisions are seemingly unfairly balanced to Carmarthen.
“Accessibility is difficult at the best of times – no meaningful public transport, there are no transport plans of any sort developed, there are no community services developed and we’ve not seen any business plans or any financial planning – it’s like promising jam tomorrow, ‘trust us it will work.’ “We are right to hold them to account and check in as much details as we can the plans that they intend to implement for the future.
“We are accused of being negative and not seeing the bigger picture but we are being cautious and if we believe it’s not in the interests of the people we have the right to object,” said Mr Wales.
The CHC has previously said it felt that SCBU services should be maintained at the three main hospital sites in Hywel Dda.
“In regards to Pembrokeshire our two big concerns are around the minor injuries in south Pembrokeshire and of course the biggest issue is around the SCBU at Withybush,”
added Mr Wales.
“We felt that the SCBU units should be kept across all three hospitals, we don’t believe that a neonatal was totally necessary, still are of that view.
“But given there might be some challenges ahead, training of doctors and so on, that will present a very, very challenging position if we are to see a development of a neonatal level two.
“We know that a new level three will be built at Morriston and that’s 20 minutes in an ambulance from Carmarthen on a good road network.
“We think, why go through this million, million pound expenditure to create a level two when the statistics don’t justify it?