A con­sul­ta­tion ex­er­cise over the fu­ture of health ser­vices in West Wales has at­tracted a mas­sive re­sponse, as CHRISTIE BAN­NON re­ports

Llanelli Star - - Front Page -

AROUND 51,000 peo­ple have signed their names on pe­ti­tions linked to rad­i­cal plans on the fu­ture of health ser­vices in West Wales.

There have also been 5,395 ques­tion­naires filled in and 160 events at­tract­ing more than 4,000 peo­ple.

It fol­lows a 12-week pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion by Hy­wel Dda Univer­sity Health Board on three op­tions for how hos­pi­tal and com­mu­nity ser­vices should be de­liv­ered go­ing for­ward in Car­marthen­shire, Pem­brokeshire and Ceredi­gion.

They in­cluded pro­pos­als such as mak­ing Glang­wili a com­mu­nity hos­pi­tal, down­grad­ing Prince Philip Hos­pi­tal and even build­ing a new hos­pi­tal near Whit­land.

But de­spite the big re­sponse and the tens of thou­sands of names on pe­ti­tions, the health board has stated that the fi­nal de­ci­sion on which op­tion to pur­sue “will not be de­ter­mined by num­bers alone’”

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Moore, pic­tured, ex­plained: “We have com­mit­ted through­out this process to be as open and in­clu­sive as pos­si­ble and we’ve strived to go above and beyond ex­pec­ta­tions for con­tin­u­ous en­gage­ment be­cause it is the right thing to do and be­cause we have learnt so much from dis­cus­sion, new ideas and chal­lenge.

“We are there­fore mak­ing this re­port avail­able to our pa­tients, staff, stake­hold­ers and com­mu­ni­ties so we can all take time to read and con­sider its con­tents.”

There was sup­port for some el­e­ments of the con­sul­ta­tion, in­clud­ing the case for change, strength­en­ing com­mu­nity mod­els, sep­a­rat­ing planned and ur­gent care and pro­vi­sion of a new hos­pi­tal in the south of the Hy­wel Dda area.

The pro­posed com­mu­nity hubs and hos­pi­tals re­ceived a neg­a­tive re­sponse, with re­cur­ring sug­ges­tions for hubs to be con­sid­ered in Mil­ford Haven/ Ney­land, Fish­guard/Good­wick, Crymych, Lam­peter and Llandy­sul.

There were also con­cerns over the loss of com­mu­nity beds, with spe­cific ref­er­ence to Am­man Val­ley Hos­pi­tal.

The pro­posed lo­ca­tion for a new ur­gent and emer­gency care hos­pi­tal be­tween Nar­berth and St Clears also had a “high level of dis­agree­ment”.

Ar­gu­ments were put for­ward in­stead for build­ing the new hos­pi­tal near Car­marthen , due its cen­tral lo­ca­tion be­tween Haver­ford­west and Llanelli.

Travel and ac­cess to ser­vices (es­pe­cially for those who were vul­ner­a­ble or iso­lated) and the lim­i­ta­tions of roads and pub­lic trans­port were just a few of the is­sues high­lighted.

Over­all, pro­pos­als A and B had con­sid­er­ably more sup­port than pro­posal C.

Peo­ple in Ceredi­gion tended to sup­port pro­posal A, fol­lowed by B, while those in Car­marthen­shire tended to sup­port pro­posal B, fol­lowed by C.

Res­i­dents in Pem­brokeshire sup­ported pro­posal A over B and C but with sup­port for an al­ter­na­tive pro­posal.

NHS staff tended to favour pro­posal B over A.

There was also sub­stan­tial sup­port for al­ter­na­tive op­tions, with the vast ma­jor­ity ref­er­enc­ing the re­ten­tion or en­hance­ment of ex­ist­ing ser­vices at Withy­bush Hos­pi­tal.

It was gen­er­ally recog­nised that pro­posal A was likely to max­imise the re­sources avail­able for in­vest­ment and the de­liv­ery of com­mu­nity-based ser­vices and many be­lieved the ben­e­fits of adopt­ing the most cost-ef­fec­tive op­tion shouldn’t be un­der­stated, given the on­go­ing fi­nan­cial pres­sures and in­creas­ing needs of an age­ing pop­u­la­tion.

The feed­back sug­gested that the main ad­van­tage in sup­port of Pro­posal B was the abil­ity to de­liver ser­vices lo­cally within the health board area for as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble.

But many had con­cerns that if Prince Philip Hos­pi­tal did not re­main a lo­cal gen­eral hos­pi­tal, then large num­bers of res­i­dents from the most pop­u­lated ar­eas would in­evitably choose to re­ceive ser­vices in ABMU health board.

The health board will now go through a pe­riod of ‘con­sci­en­tious con­sid­er­a­tion,’ where it will con­sider views and im­pli­ca­tions heard dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion and look at any al­ter­na­tive op­tions sug­gested, be­fore reeval­u­at­ing and propos­ing a fu­ture ser­vice model.

Any sug­gested pro­pos­als will go through the same process as those ex­plored be­fore the con­sul­ta­tion be­gan. They will then be an­a­lysed by a range of clin­i­cal staff to see if they are vi­able.

A rec­om­mended way for­ward will then be pre­sented to the lo­cal health board on Wed­nes­day, Septem­ber

26, in Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil cham­bers.

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