HYWEL Dda Health Board has said it will not be closing any A&E departments before a new hospital or other alternatives are in place - but may have to react to situations as they develop.

Under the three proposals put forward by the Health Board's 'Our Big NHS Change' document, Withybush will be downgraded to a community hospital.

That would see the loss of the hospital's A&E.

The A&E for Pembrokeshire patients would be at a planned new hospital 'between Narberth and St Clears.'

While campaigners are now fighting those plans there were concerns that Withybush's A&E (or emergency and urgent care centre) could close before a new hospital was built, which is likely to take several years.

But Executive Medical Director and Director of Clinical Strategy Dr Philip Kloer told the Western Telegraph: “We would like to be clear that our plans do not involve closing any of our current emergency and urgent care services in advance of any new alternatives, such as a new hospital, being agreed and put in place.

"There is therefore no truth in the rumour that we plan to close any of our A&E Departments."

But Dr Kloer admitted: "At the same time, we are facing unprecedented pressures and many of our services, including emergency care, are fragile. This is the reason why we are consulting on future provision, driven by the need to provide the best healthcare for our population.

"Our clinicians and managers will continue to make operational decisions and react to changing circumstances every day to ensure we can safely treat our patients. In this context absolute guarantees are very hard to make.”