In view of the current NHS hospital crisis I believe that in North Pembrokeshire we have the possibility of a solution, leading the way in innovative resolutions to the problem.

In December my late 91 year old mum was a patient in Withybush General Hospital and following two weeks of excellent care and treatment, was declared medically fit for discharge. However, as she lived alone, she needed a care package and this wasn’t available. In fact, we were told that it was possible that nothing would be available for four weeks or more so Mum became one of the ‘bed blockers’ we hear and read about so much.

We took the decision to bring her home and employ a private carer to help us, not an option open to everyone I know and one which needed much consideration and soul searching on the parts of her four senior citizen children.

When thinking about her situation and the plight of countless others in this area together with the pressures faced by Withybush and the Social Service Care in the Community service, a thought occurred to me!

With the building of our new 21 st Century Secondary School in Fishguard, the County Council must now find the funds to demolish the old school building, a solid, brick-built 1950s edifice which was apparently designed to be converted to hospital use should the need arise.

Instead of financing the demolishing costs of this redundant building, which was recently redecorated and refurbished to a high standard, why not consider developing at least part of it as a ‘cottage hospital’ and new North Pembrokeshire Health Hub? Hospital patients who are deemed medically fit but in need of convalescence or a re-enablement package before going home could be cared for there, even on a day centre basis in some cases.

We read recently of Welsh Assembly Vaughn Gething’s proposal to spend 70 million pounds refurbishing Welsh health centres, including Fishguard, by 2021. We also know that Goodwick surgery is to close and amalgamate with the Fushguard Health Centre. Why not relocate this Health Centre to the old school and use the promised Welsh Assembly finance to convert one area to a new, combined twin town super surgery? Community Nursing, Health Visitors, Physio, Podiatry etc could all enjoy new and improved premises which would link in to a cottage hospital system which would be in close proximity to the Leisure Centre with Hydrotherapy and other health promoting facilities on site.

In other words, joined up provision.

So….I propose that 1. The County Council should GIFT the former High School building to the Health Authority, saving hundreds of thousand of ponds worth of demolition costs and recycling a redundant facility.

2. The new Cottage hospital would help resolve Withybush bed blocking and, with the creation of a minor injuries unit as in South Pembs hospital, ease the pressure on A&E.

3. The Health Authority should abandon the town centre health centres in Fishguard and Goodwick and create a new hub in the old school, saving huge redevelopment costs in addition to creating income from the sale of such prominent town centre sites, which could be used to develop the new facilities in the old school.

Advantages Save demolition costs of the old school, using this funding in a positive and constructive way to create a super health hub in the North of the county.

Reuse buildings that have plenty of life left in them…reducing our carbon footprint Save the funding of revamping the Health Centre, releasing funds for this new initiative.

Eliminate some of the hospital bed blocking Ease pressure on care package demands Ease pressure on A&E Increased job opportunities in North Pembrokeshire Work experience opportunities for school pupils Volunteering opportunities in the community Expansion of school canteen facilities to provide meals for the cottage hospital Reduction in the exorbitant travel costs of carers travelling hundreds of miles per day, using the time and money saved to put in place ‘hands on’ care for patients.

Disadvantages Out of town site for health facilities might demand new bus service routes …or increase in Country Car demand, but also provide opportunities for new taxi companies!

Do we dare to think ‘outside the box”?

Let’s lead the way in Wales and embrace this opportunity to change how we care for the sick and elderly in our communities!

Let common sense prevail!

Yours humbly,

Elizabeth Bowyer