North Wales NHS: CHC get more Betsi Cadwaladr talk time

Flint protesters
Image caption Protestors have campaigned against NHS changes in north Wales

The patient watchdog for north Wales has been given more time to discuss NHS reshuffle plans with Betsi Cadwaladr university Health Board.

Betsi Cadwaladr Community Health Council originally had to decide if it wanted to refer any plans to Health Minister Lesley Griffiths by 1 March.

This has now been extended by the Welsh government to Monday, 11 March.

The CHC has already said it does not intend to refer the most controversial elements of the proposal.

This includes plans to close four community hospitals and the transfer of neonatal intensive care across the border to England.

The CHC has indicated it wanted more time to discuss concerns about capital investment in new primary care centres, along with the health board's timescale for delivery.

On Wednesday Mrs Griffiths indicated that she could potentially decide to look at plans to change services in north Wales even if they were not referred formally by the CHC.

'High level of correspondence'

She said she had received a "high level of correspondence" on the specialist neonatal intensive care proposals to transfer new babies needing the highest level of treatment to Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral, but that it was "important due process is followed".

A spokesperson for the Welsh government said the CHC had "requested an extension of the deadline in order to resolve any outstanding issues with the health board".

"Having noted the progress being made, the minister decided to allow the CHC more time to finalise its position. The CHC has until 11 March to decide if any matters should be referred to her for determination."

Plans for big changes to the NHS in mid and west Wales have already been referred to the Welsh government.

Hywel Dda Health Board wants to change accident and emergency care at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli.

The Special Care Baby Unit at Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest would also close under some of its plans.

But Hywel Dda CHC says the move will mean the decision is taken by ministers in Cardiff.

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