Hospital unit may shut permanently
A HOSPITAL unit with a role in assessing the needs of elderly patients may be permanently closed.
Maesteg Day Hospital – a day service at Maesteg Community Hospital – was closed temporarily in 2017, with a reopening intended in early 2018.
But Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU) said this has not been possible due to “staffing issues beyond our control”.
A public consultation into the proposed permanent closure was launched by ABMU on Monday and will run until December 21.
Conservative AM for the South Wales West region Suzy Davies has condemned the proposal, calling the move “another closure of a health facility by stealth”.
She is urging service users to contact her with their views on the matter.
“The board says that the unit was only operating at 50% capacity and since its closure new referrals are down to seven a month which are being dealt with by Princess of Wales Hospital at its own day care centre,” Mrs Davies said.
“I don’t think it’s rocket science to work out that the decline in referrals since the Maesteg unit closed is probably down to the fact that local people knew it was closed and that they would have to travel to Bridgend.
“I am assuming that people were waiting for the unit to re-open in April, as was promised by the board at the time of closure.”
The unit is known locally as the day hospital and is located within Maesteg Community Hospital.
Mrs Davies added: “This is yet another closure of a health facility by stealth – dressed up initially as a temporary move because of staffing shortages on Llynfi Ward and then extended because of the discovery of asbestos in the unit and then when it was time to re-open, by the discovery that it had lost its staff.
“This is a blatant example of how health services are operating in Wales, which has led to the widely held view that you cannot believe anything you are told by health managers.”
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg assistant director of strategy Joanne AbbottDavies said: “A shortage of nurses meant Maesteg Day Hospital – a day service located within Maesteg Community Hospital – had to be closed on a temporary basis in 2017, with the intention of reopening it in early 2018.
“However, staffing issues beyond our control meant it was not possible for us to reopen it as planned.
“Patients from the Llynfi Valley have instead been cared for at Princess of Wales Hospital’s (POWH) medical day unit.
“We have been considering the best way to provide day hospital services which are of a high quality and sustainable for the people of the Llynfi Valley and Bridgend as a whole.
“The health board has now agreed to carry out a public engagement on the proposed permanent closure of the day hospital, and moving the service on a permanent basis to POWH.”
A joint statement from Huw Irranca-Davies AM and Chris Elmore MP says: “We believe that the health boards must guarantee the long-term future of this wonderful hospital as part of the fabric of health provision in this area, and must consult widely with the local community before finalising any plans.
“We will also be seeking assurance that the new services to the hospital, which ABMU have stated, will form part of securing it’s long-term future. We also want to understand the involvement of our local GPs in the proposed reconfiguration of services, the implications for staff, and whether the proposals are supported by clinicians.
“Maesteg Hospital only recently celebrated its centenary in 2014. Whilst health services always change and evolve to meet the demands of the population they serve: we firmly believe that this hospital, founded on contributions from working miners and their families, has a continuing and vital role to play in the future health needs of residents in the Llynfi valley, Afan valley and the surrounding areas.
“We will be meeting the chairman and officers of the health board urgently to discuss these proposals, and to seek assurances of the support of ABMU - and of Cwm Taf Health Board - to the long-term future of this much-loved and much-needed facility. We will also be seeking confirmation that there will be the widest consultation, in which we would strongly urge people to attend and make their views heard.”
The public engagement runs until December 21, and will include a public meeting in Maesteg Town Hall on Wednesday November 14, from 6pm to 8pm. There will also be drop-in events on Thursday, November 22, in Maesteg Community Centre and on Tuesday, December 4, in Maesteg Leisure Centre. Both will run from 9am to 5pm.
People can also contact the health board directly with their views.
The outcome will be considered by the Community Health Council and health board in January.
Maesteg Community Hospital