The stark reality of Withybush’s A&E department was made blatantly clear this week when Pembrokeshire’s town, community and county councillors were invited to join an extraordinary meeting with Hywel Dda chiefs.

In an ideal world, Withybush's A&E department should be controlled by a team of 12 consultants but the latest figure stands at just three.

Equally disconcerting is the fact that the hospital’s nursing shortages have now reached 25 per cent, while patients requiring cardiac and major trauma treatments are immediately referred either to Glangwili in Carmarthen or Morriston in Swansea.


Each of Pembrokeshire’s 10 town councils and 67 community councils were invited to join the virtual meeting on Monday evening, which equates to around 700 people, however the turnout totalled just 20.

And of those, six represented Neyland Town Council.

“We were there simply because Neyland, as a town, is very concerned about the future of Withybush and what can be done to maintain the health service provision in Pembrokeshire,” said Neyland's Cllr Steve Thomas.

“Because Withbush is no longer a training hospital, new doctors simply aren’t being attracted to the area with the result that Withybush is rapidly moving towards becoming a Minor Injuries Unit. This is a situation that no one is happy with.”

Meanwhile Hywel Dda Health Board chairperson Maria Battle has confirmed that staff and health services throughout the county are currently 'spread so thinly.'

“We’ve listened to and will continue to listen to the fears and voices of the public we serve, and also to our staff who understand the frontline challenges of trying to deliver services across so many sites," she said.  "But these sites are spread so thinly.”

Yesterday (Thursday) Hywel Dda University Health Board released confirmation of the three potential hospital sites which are to be considered for public consultation. Two are bbased in the Whitland area and the third in St Clears.

Earlier this year the health board submitted what it has described as ‘ambitious plans’ to the Welsh government.

"If successful, this could result in a £1.3billion investment into health care in West Wales.

This will include a new ‘urgent and planned care hospital’ aimed at improving and increasing the range of specialist care services provided within the county and tackling long-standing problems such as staff recruitment, deteriorating hospital buildings and problems in maintaining medical rotas over several hospitals.

The board also plans to develop multiple integrated health and care centres across the counties of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

In yesterday's extraordinary board meeting, it was unanimously agreed that further public consultation was needed regarding each of three sites.

Five provisional sites were originally considered including a third site in St Clears and an additional one in Narberth. Both of these have now been discontinued, the Narberth one because of its westerly location.

“We’re currently seeking the greatest investment that west Wales has ever seen,” continued Maria Battle.

“And this builds on the foundation of our promise to bring as much care as possible closer to people’s homes through integrated care centres in many towns across west Wales."

The board has no intention of making further changes to either Withybush or Glangwili until the new hospital is built.

Meanwhile Neyland Town Council is urging Pembrokeshire residents to take up Ms Battle’s offer.

“Please contact your town or community council and request that your councillors attend any future meetings as we need the strongest voice possible,” added Cllr Steve Thomas.

“I’ve personally asked Hywel Dda to provide presentation events in the near future which will be open for all Pembrokeshire residents to attend, giving everyone the opportunity to raise their concerns and objections and also to be presented with the appropriate factual information. Once again, we want every service possible to remain in Pembrokeshire.”

The Hywel Dda extraordinary board meeting can be watched in full online -