Health Board Say Trust Us

Repeatedly during the Hywel Dda health board launch of proposals in Council Chambers various members repeatedly said trust us.

To me trust is earned not given on blind faith so let’s look at just a few examples of their record from past to present.

Two examples from past are - SWAT said around 12 years ago (when I was a member) the proposals then would result in Withybush becoming a cottage (community) hospital. We were derided & accused of scaremongering by health board.

Before moving consultant led Maternity & Paediatrics in Oct 2014 we were promised by the health board & the then current health minister nothing would be moved before everything was in place in Glangwili. In Sept 2015 a quote from a RCPCH report states “The Glangwili labour ward is not fit for purpose; it is too small, with insufficient facilities and provides a poor environment for women and staff. The increased numbers of women using the unit, including those with high-risk pregnancies from Pembrokeshire has put additional pressure on the staff with two culturally very different teams learning to work together in cramped and difficult conditions. Whilst senior midwives have strived to ensure that the service is safe, there has been insufficient priority given to the promised expansion of the facilities (Phase two) and the organisational development needs of the midwifery staff. These must be addressed as a matter of urgency.” Currently 4 years after moving services things are still not “in place” (phase 2) and not likely to be for another 2 years.

The health board will say that was under previous management so let’s look at just one instance that has happened under current management –

We were told PACU was to be “temporarily” reduced from 10am -10pm to 10am – 6pm. This temporary reduction is still in place over 18 months later and now looks permanent. Some may think not a huge difference but most children present after 6.30pm (RCPCH report).

The latest proposals are all to downgrade Withybush Hospital at best to a community hospital with no A & E, no emergency surgery, only minor injuries & possibly day surgery or no surgery at all.

They talk of possible new build sometime in next 10- 20 years (if they can get funding approval for the likely £700m - £750m cost) somewhere between Narberth & St Clears.

My view is it will never happen but services will be moved from Withybush to Glangwili, Prince Phillip Llanelli & Morriston in meantime and in a few years, we will be told there are no funds for new build. The Health Board cannot give us a guarantee that services will not be moved in the transitional period. One question they have failed to answer is if the reason for proposals is recruitment failure causing current rota problems & budget deficit due to employing more expensive locum/agency staff -how are any of the proposals going to solve these in next 10-20 years?

Even if my fears are unfounded I believe the new build will be just outside St Clears which to most of Pembrokeshire is hardly any better than Glangwili.

At the proposal drop in events there was conflicting/contradictory information given out by different members of health board (not just my view but also raised at Community Health Council meeting). The health board representative said they would address this at their consultation halfway meeting which I said was not good enough as for half the consultation some members of public were given incorrect information which could influence how they filled in questionnaire & distort response.

I am in favour of the concept of community hubs with joined health & social services & more care in community but where are staff going to come from. There is currently a recruitment problem with nurses & GP’s and will need many more to implement the hubs. First glance at the proposed map raised the question what about north & west Pembs as the only hubs were in Tenby & Pembroke. Answer – someone else has raised this as well and we now realise there is a gap and will look into it. They have had a team working on this for a year so why not notice the glaringly obvious before?



Apart from obvious health risks there is also a real economic risk to Pembrokeshire. Large companies when looking to expand are now looking at Haverfordwest or Llanelli (each 80,000-population catchment area) and not Carmarthen (40,000). When they do risk assessment etc it will show Pembrokeshire does not have a DGH or A & E so likely to choose Llanelli. Same will apply to construction industry etc. Some aspects of tourism will be affected. Current service staff are unlikely to be able to afford the extra travel cost so more likely to be replaced from Carmarthenshire.

Pembrokeshire is one of 5 counties (out of 22) contributing more to Welsh Government coffers than it gets back thus helping subsidise others. If our economy declines then either the subsidised counties will receive less or the other 4 will have to contribute more.

David Williams

Milford Haven