EMERGENCY hospital services in west Wales “is not being forgotten”, the health minister has said.

Eluned Morgan, spoke at the Senedd debate today (June 29) over calls to save Withybush Hospital’s A&E.

Campaigners have called a proposal to build a new hospital between Narberth and St Clears as “dangerous”

Concerns continue to mount after Hywel Dda University Health Board submitted a business case to the Welsh government for £1.3billion in investment. It is seeking to provide both planned and urgent care, with the new hospital functioning as the health board’s trauma unit and main emergency department.

Steve Moore, Hywel Dda’s chief executive said the reconfiguration of hospital services would be the only way the health board can maintain services in west Wales.


The health board has selected five possible sites for the new hospital – one in Narberth, two in Whitland and two in St Clears.

Western Telegraph: Campaigners at a Save Withybush A&E rallyCampaigners at a Save Withybush A&E rally

Should plans go ahead it would see Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest and Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen becoming community hospitals with a focus on “patients who do not need to be in acute setting but need support.”

Speaking ahead of the debate a spokesperson for the Save Withybush campaign group said: “There seems to be a misconception among the executive of the health board that these proposals are some kind of 'done deal'. They are not.

“The board will soon learn that Pembrokeshire is prepared to fight them at every level to stop these dangerous proposals and that with our collective voice we will remind them that their job is to provide universal access to health services in line with the original principles of the NHS. Currently they are not doing that – instead operating more like a corporate body which has lost its way."

Western Telegraph: Health Minister Eluned Morgan Health Minister Eluned Morgan

In Wednesday’s Senedd debate, Health Minister Eluned Morgan said Hywel Dda “continues to make it clear that duplication of services across its sites leads to fragility.

She added: “Multiple sites cannot sustain the necessary expertise nor the scale needed to provide optimum 24/7 care.

“As someone who is based in St Davids with a 90-year-old mother I know that I would rather travel an extra few miles to see an expert quicker than spending hours on end in A&E as is currently the case.”

Ms Morgan said the priority of the health board is to “maintain safe services” and it continues to work through details of its plans.

“I understand the concerns from local people in Pembrokeshire about the Withybush hospital and I want to be clear that the hospital will continue to play an important role in the future of health services in that area,” she said.

Ms Morgan said people are “waiting longer than they would wish to because it is difficult to recruit to Withybush hospital”.

“For the large number of people in west Wales awaiting surgery the ability to separate emergency cases from planned care would be a positive step forward.”

She added: “A&E will remain in Withybush until a hospital is built, we have a long way to go and lots of hoops to jump through before we get to that point.”

Conservative MS for Preseli Paul Davies said that forcing people to travel further afield for life saving treatment and emergency services is totally unacceptable and could put lives at risk.

“By the health board’s own admission Pembrokeshire desperately needs upgrades to its transport infrastructure, and that means that people living in areas like St Davids or Fishguard, for example, will take much more than an hour to reach any facilities,” he said.

Western Telegraph: Preseli MS Paul DaviesPreseli MS Paul Davies

Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru MS Mid & West Wales said: “I know that many residents are extremely concerned about the impact of this increase in journey times to A&E, particularly when considering the significant influx in the population in Pembrokeshire during the height of the tourist season, as well as the concentration of industrial activity found on the Milford Haven waterway."

“It's vital that the health board and the Welsh Government pay careful attention to the genuine concerns expressed by the residents of Pembrokeshire, and that they take decisive action to ensure that access to emergency services, and residents' right to access these services, isn't undermined by any proposed reforms to the area's health system."

The health board is set to discuss the fives possible sites for the new hospital at its board meeting in August.