Our hospital is essential

FOLLOWING the recent Hywel Dda health board meeting it was disclosed they have already made the decision to close Withybush General Hospital, and A&E, and that this building will become a community ‘hospital’.

I find this absolutely incredible and wish to register a strong protest. As far as I am aware, residents of Pembrokeshire were not properly consulted before this decision was made.

Pembrokeshire is the most westerly county in Wales and to expect its residents to travel long distances to receive often urgent treatment is unthinkable. Will more hospital transport be available? Will suitable provision be made for road closures due to bad weather or major road works? Will the minor injuries units we are left with be accessible 24 hours a day and seven days a week?

We fail to see why Withybush General Hospital cannot be made a centre of excellence. It is in good condition, has most of the facilities required for a general hospital, has a heliport and new and well-used A&E facilities. Of course, staffing is an on-going problem but is surely magnified by the never-ending threats of closure, the downgrading of services, the lack of job security, and the uncertainty regarding the county’s health care system as a whole.

The BBC’s ‘Countryfile’ programme recently voted Pembrokeshire the UK’s No.1 holiday destination. This will only add to the summer population totals, which already rise by a huge percentage every year. With this annual hike in the population, together with the Castlemartin range and large refineries in the county, a local, and well-equipped hospital is absolutely essential.

Surely there is a legal requirement to provide access to a local, 24-hour A&E facility for a large rural community, in fact a complete county. If not then surely there is a moral responsibility to do so.