WITHYBUSH’S new renal unit will not open until at least mid September the Western Telegraph has learned.

The long-awaited renal unit has lain empty since the build was completed on schedule in April.

The 21 station, £7.8 million unit was built by the health board on behalf of the Welsh Renal Network.

At present only the meeting room in the state-of-the-art facility is in use and patients are still having dialysis in a temporary unit or having to travel to Carmarthen, with ill and elderly patients often being picked up at 5am.

A contract to run the unit was expected to be awarded by the end of May. However a spokesman for the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee said this will now not happen until mid August, due to changes to the original legal contract.

A preferred bidder should be confirmed by next Monday, with the contract awarded between mid and late August.

“Depending on which company is awarded the contract it could be between four and 12 weeks before the permanent Withybush Dialysis unit is operational,” said the spokesman.

This means the unit should be up and running by mid September at the earliest or, in a worst case scenario, not until November.

Tony Wales, former chairman of the Pembrokeshire branch of the Hywel Dda Community Health Council, called the situation a “bureaucratic nightmare”.

“The minister needs to get hold of these people and knock their heads together to get some information as to why people are being denied the treatment they are entitled to,” he said.

“Enough is enough. We are becoming a laughing stock.”

Dialysis patient representative Alex Cottrell, who has been involved with the unit since its inception added: “We’ve been at this for ten years and gone through three ministers.

“If it was McDonalds it would be up and running – they would be frying the chips, they would have pulled out all the stops.

“It’s a beautiful building, we just have to get the patients in there.”