WITHYBUSH Hospital’s future is as a ‘community hospital’ with no accident and emergency, according to health board proposals now out for public consultation.

Three options have been put forward by Hywel Dda University Health Board following approval this afternoon (April 19) all of which see a new urgent and planned care hospital being built between Narberth and St Clears.

Glangwili in Carmarthen will also lose its emergency care services but could become a planned care unit or a community hospital depending on the proposed options.

Over the next 12 weeks residents in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion – which survives relatively unscathed – are urged to have their say on the proposals described as a “once-in-a-lifetime chance to fundamentally change the way that we provide local healthcare services for the better.”

The downgrading of Withybush, Glangwili, and in one of the options Prince Philip in Llanelli, would be supported by community services and 10 ‘community hubs’.

It may sound a familiar plan to many, with an idea floated more than 10 years ago to build a new hospital in Whitland.

In all options Bronglais in Aberystwyth remains a district general hospital and services in mid Wales will be boosted by community hubs in Aberareon, Cardigan and Tregaron.

In proposal A the new unit will be supported by community hospitals in Carmarthen, Haverfordwest and Llanelli.

Proposal B sees community hospitals in Carmarthen and Haverfordwest, with general hospitals in Llanelli and Aberystwyth.

Proposal C separates the new units with urgent care between Narberth and St Clears and a new planned care unit on the Glangwili site, a community hospital at Withybush and general hospitals at Prince Philip and Bronglais.

A general hospital will provide overnight care for seriously ill people as well as those with long lasting health conditions.

Community hospitals will provide beds for people who need a little more treatment than is possible at home, minor injuries treatments, tests, scans and in Glangwili and Withybush, midwife led services.

Planned care hospital will provide quick treatment for people who need a test or operation while an urgent care hospital if for serious injuries and when lives are at risk including a&e and intensive care.

Community hubs will provide a range of services, especially for older, frail and vulnerable people, advice and support, some treatments that used to be done in hospital and some will have minor injury units and beds.

Campaigners in Pembrokeshire were left disappointed by the proposals that “ruled out” any consultation in the county.

“If the new build is set in stone, the community hospital is set in stone, Pembrokeshire is ruled out of the consultation,” said David Williams.

Hywel Dda University Health Board met in Haverfordwest and members were told by senior clinicians involved in developing the proposals that “no change was not an option” and that the current service situation was “unsustainable.”

Board members were also told that the consultation was not on whether there would be a new build, a community model or urgent and planned care being separated as this was already decided.

Clinicians referred to recruitment problems, staffing issues, rotas on the brink of collapse, fragile services, extended life expectancy and increasing pressure services – “the eternal winter” – as reasons for the changes.

A business case for a new build has not been prepared and full costings unknown but it is believed the service reorganisation would save in the region of £50million, the meeting heard.

Questions were raised about infrastructure and transport as well as a call for assurance that primary and community services would be developed before any changes begin.

Executive Medical Director and Director of Clinical Strategy Dr Phil Kloer said: “We heard a really compelling case from a whole range of clinicians who work in a whole range of professions across the health board – an urgent need for change.

“Services need to be better, not just now but for generations to come.

“People in rural communities have to travel to Glangwili in an emergency for a whole range of services at the moment, actually building a new hospital further west is bringing many services closer to the coast.”

He said that improvements must be made to the quality of service received, improved recruitment.

The consultation, he added, would be a “springboard for better recruitment” with potential employees seeing the new facilities as an attractive prospect for work.

“It’s also important to retain staff, it will offer our staff the opportunity of new, exciting and high value roles,” he said.