Blaenau Ffestiniog hospital: Eight hundred at rally over closure plan

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Media captionThe plans are part of a major shake-up of health services across north Wales

About 800 people have attended a rally in protest at the planned closure of Blaenau Ffestiniog hospital in Gwynedd.

It follows Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board's decision to shut four community hospitals and transfer care for seriously ill babies to England.

Campaigners at the protest said they would meet on Monday to discuss calls for a judicial review over the health board's handling of the plans.

The board has said previously it must overhaul services.

It cites an ageing population, retaining and recruiting medical expertise and financial strain.

The Blaenau Ffestiniog protest attracted people from other areas of north Wales.

Built by Portmeirion architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the town's hospital has 12 inpatient beds and nearly a 1,000 people a year use its minor injury unit.

Geraint Vaughan Jones, chairman of Blaenau Ffestiniog hospital's defence committee, said action groups across the region would meet on Monday to discuss calls for a judicial review.

'Bureaucracy at work'

"We're hoping to show the people that matter, in Bangor or wherever they are, that the people in this area, like every other area throughout north Wales, have very strong feelings about what the board is planning to do," he said.

"It's just bureaucracy at work - that's all it is. They won't listen to any arguments.

"Groups from across north Wales will be coming together on Monday evening to discuss ways of arranging or calling for a judicial review of the way the board have been moving ahead with their plans without any justification, we feel."

Sparked protests

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) announced in January that Blaenau Ffestiniog, Flint, Llangollen and Prestatyn community hospitals would see services switched to 10 other locations.

The board has said it will move specialist intensive care for babies to England.

BCUHB has also confirmed the minor injury unit at Blaenau Ffestiniog would close before the end of the month, with minor injury units at Llangollen, Chirk, Flint, Ruthin and Colwyn Bay.

Community health councils have about a month to refer BCUHB's plans to the health minister Lesley Griffiths.

Wales' seven health boards are in the process of finalising reorganisation plans, many of which have sparked protests by opponents.

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