NO site is as yet preferred as Hywel Dda University Health Board release results of latest engagement process.

Work to review five potential sites for a new urgent and planned care hospital somewhere in the zone between and including Narberth and St Clears. – one in Narberth, two sites near Whitland and two near St Clears – has already taken place.

The health board say there is not a current ‘preferred’ site as there is a range of different evidence, impacts and viewpoints to be considered.

The technical appraisal group, scored the potential sites considering technical criteria and feedback from public engagement.

Four of the five sites had very similar scores, with only one of the sites near St Clears scoring significantly lower than others.

Two distinct clinical groups – one for neonatal services, obstetrics and paediatrics and another for stroke services - considered the implications of siting the new hospital either further east, centrally or further west within the zone.

The neonatal services, obstetrics, and paediatrics expert group found of the three geographical areas within the zone, those furthest east presented the least clinical risk to services.

Attendees of the workshop were of the opinion that a site further east outside the zone would be preferable.

They were concerned that the zone presents a risk of reduction in critical mass of patients, due to potential for people in the east attending services elsewhere and resulting in a reduction in birth numbers, and neonatal and paediatric admissions. This was outside the scope of the appraisal and the geographical zone was agreed following engagement and consultation in 2018.

The expert group for stroke services reported that any area of the zone would be suitable due to the focus on pathways and how patients are treated beyond their initial admission.

It did however state that for access to workforce reasons the sites central or east would be more preferable.

The workforce appraisal focused on the accessibility impact for the Health Board’s workforce. Evidence the group considered, included travel time analysis and potential staffing impact and risk.

The group noted that there would be impact on those who traditionally are able to work locally to their homes and those who reasonably expect to travel linked to their professions.

The group found it inconclusive to say if a site further east would have a greater impact to securing a sustainable workforce overall, including for recruitment.

The financial and economic appraisal focused on appraising the process and outcomes that may be required for capital funding and next steps in land acquisition. It found as a percentage of the overall estimated costs of the development, there was little to distinguish between different sites.

An extraordinary health board meeting is being held at 9.30am on Thursday August 4.

Ahead of the meeting, Hywel Dda Director of Strategic Development & Operational Planning, Lee Davies said: “We are so grateful for the significant work that has been carried out during the appraisal process and this will be presented to the health board next week.

"It will be down to the board to determine which sites should be taken forward for further consideration and a recommended public consultation as this is such a fundamental part of our service provision for future generations.”

You can watch the meeting on live stream, and a link will be available from the Health Board website.