PLANS to improve Ward 10 at Withybush Hospital will be delayed by another eight months, following a meeting of Hywel Dda University Health Board members.

The proposals, to develop the ward into an inpatient facility for palliative care, oncology and haematology patients, were discussed at a meeting on March 30.

Members were told that, in order for the work to happen, Ward 10 patients would need to be temporarily 'decanted' to the currently vacant Ward 9 – the former children’s ward.

To make it suitable, Ward 9 would first need to be refurbished, and members were shown two options of how this could be achieved.

They rejected a £650,000 proposal for a basic refurbishment of Ward 9, opting for a £1.5million full refurbishment, which would provide 14 beds, plus 5 single-bed en suite areas.

This more expensive option would mean that Ward 9 could later be used as a functioning medical ward.

A spokesman said the health board recognised the proposals would cause an “unavoidable delay” of 35 weeks (eight months), due to a “detailed design and tendering process”, but said it was confident that the benefits warranted such a delay.

The estimated costs for developing both wards is around £3.5m.

More than £375,000 towards the project has been raised by the health board’s cancer services fund, and Elly’s Ward 10 Flag Appeal, but the bulk of the money would need to come from the Welsh Government.

A health board spokesman said it was aiming to submit a business case to the Welsh Government by the end of 2017.

Dr Iain Robertson-Steel, hospital director at Withybush and county director and commissioner for Pembrokeshire, said: “We believe that developing both Ward 9 and Ward 10 areas at the same time is more effective and the best use of the anticipated funding and significant charitable funds raised by Pembrokeshire people.”

He added that, subject to the money being granted, he was hopeful that building works could begin in 2018.