Specialist services to be centralised in South Wales NHS shake-up
Specialist NHS services in South Wales are to be reorganised with health bosses claiming the current set-up is “unsustainable”.
Conservative and Plaid Cymru AMs have questioned the plans stating it would lead to a downgrading of hospitals.
Obstetric, neonatal, in-patient paediatric and some high-level A&E services are to be centralised at four or five hospitals.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University, Cwm Taf, Cardiff and Vale, and Aneurin Bevan health boards have announced the changes claiming services were spread too thinly and that patients could be at risk.
Sites already earmarked are the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and Morriston Hospital in Swansea, while critical care services will be transferred from the Royal Gwent in Newport and Nevill Hall in Abergavenny to a new centre in Llanfrechfa near Cwmbran.
A fourth, and possible fifth site, could be the Prince Charles hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, the Princess of Wales in Bridgend and the Royal Glamorgan in Llantrisant. A major trauma unit
A major trauma centre would also be created and based at either Cardiff or Swansea for the most seriously injured patients. Another option is to share the centre across both hospitals.
The plans, called the South Wales Programme, were drawn up after consultation with 300 clinicians across the five local health boards.
A three-month public consultation will be launched next year once a 12-week ‘engagement exercise’ ends on December 19. No decisions will be taken until late spring or early summer 2013.
Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives have questioned the plans.
Shadow Minister for Health Darren Millar AM, said: “These plans will lead to the downgrading of hospitals – something that the Minister promised would not happen.
“No-one should be forced to travel further for life-saving treatment – local health services should be easily accessible to those that need them.
“Our health services are facing untold pressure as a result of Welsh Labour’s record-breaking budget cuts. Over 500 million pounds is being axed from the NHS over the next three years and – despite the hard work of staff – they cannot cope with such large cutbacks.
“The answer is not more closures and downgrading – but additional investment and health budget protection.
“It’s now critical that we have a meaningful consultation where health board chiefs listen very carefully to the concerns of south Wales communities and other stakeholders.”
Dr Andrew Goodall, chief executive of Aneurin Bevan Health Board and the lead chief executive of the South Wales Programme, said: “We want patients in South Wales to have access to the best quality care, which matches the best in the world, whatever day of the week they need it.
“To do this, we need to look at the way these services are provided across the whole of South Wales, rather than just in individual health board areas.
“Our clinicians have been at the forefront of the South Wales Programme work and the discussion about how we might resolve the issues facing these services in the future.
“In response to the staffing and safety issues the clinicians have come up with some ambitious ideas, which we now want to discuss with our staff and the wider public.”
Speaking in the Senedd chamber earlier this week, Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “We have 115 hospitals in Wales for a population of three million people.
“We cannot keep all the hospitals, I don’t think. That’s why the health boards are going through these proposals at the moment.
“But it is absolutely essential that patients have safe, sustainable services as close to home as possible and that’s something that’s going to have to be seen.”Follow @CaerphillyObsvr