There are concerns that the future of Withybush’s oncology service could be “in crisis” following the imminent departure of two key members of staff.
Associate specialist in oncology and end of life care, Dr Anne Barnes MBE, is to retire at the end of July while Dr Maung Moe, a visiting consultant from Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, is leaving his position at Withybush at the end June
Lynn Neville, who works for Pembrokeshire Cancer Support, has described Dr Barnes, who was awarded the MBE for services to cancer patients in Pembrokeshire in last year, as “the glue that sticks oncology cancer services together”.
“Dr Barnes is a true professional,” he said. “Cancer patients will be aware she rarely takes leave, gets in early and leaves late, comes in to work on her days off..She will not let her patients down.”
Mr Neville said that Dr Barnes has been working alone to run Ward 10 for far too long and that Dr Moe’s departure “leaves us in an even bigger hole”.
“Many cancer patients come under the care of Dr Moe so what happens now?” he said.
“We face a crisis with the delivery of services for cancer patients at Withybush Hospital.”
He added that staff morale on Ward 10 and the cancer day unit is at a “very low ebb” and that some cancer patients now had to travel to Llanelli to see consultants they would recently have seen locally.
“Is this the next service to be lost to our local hospital?” asked Mr Neville. “Everyone needs to act now because once it’s gone it won’t be coming back."
Hywel Dda Health Board said that it is in the process of drafting adverts for Dr Barnes and Dr Moe’s posts and that it is already aware of prospective applicants. However, the Western Telegraph has seen a copy of a letter sent to Mr Neville last April which admits that the trust is facing “serious recruitment challenges”.
A Hywel Dda oncology service review group has been set up which the trust says is likely to finish its work at the end of the year.
“There are a number of different components to this work and its likely these will be implemented in a staged way,” said a trust spokesman.
“The University Health Board’s review and planning are based on the premise that oncology services will remain at Withybush Hospital.”