'No confidence' in Hywel Dda health board at Aberystwyth meeting
- 11 January 2014
- From the section Mid Wales
More than 300 people attended a public meeting in Aberystwyth to discuss ongoing concerns about health provision in mid Wales.
It focused on problems in recruiting GPs and doctors for Bronglais hospital.
The meeting passed a motion of no confidence in Hywel Dda Health Board and wants a new body to run local hospitals.
A board statement was read out saying it was developing a plan for "high quality, safe, sustainable services".
Friday night's public meeting discussed the decision to close Cardigan community hospital to inpatients and also passed a motion calling for the reinstatement of colo-rectal surgery at Bronglais.
It was organised by Aberystwyth Town Council in the wake of Health Minister Mark Drakeford's decision to order a report on the future of health services in mid Wales.
The minister set up the review after meeting Ceredigion AM Elin Jones and a delegation of senior clinicians from Ceredigion and Powys in December.
Ms Jones and fellow AMs Joyce Watson, Rebecca Evans and William Powell attended the meeting with Ceredigion MP Mark Williams.
At the public meeting at a local school, many claimed services were being downgraded with patients having to travel to Carmarthen for treatment - a round-trip of several hours from some parts of mid Wales.
Aberystwyth town councillor Mererid Jones said the aim of the meeting was "to get at the truth behind Hywel Dda Health Board's plans for health services in Ceredigion".
"There are challenges on how to attract staff to Bronglais Hospital and maintaining services in a rural area.
"There are also concerns that non-stop campaigning over services is making it difficult to recruit doctors to Bronglais hospital.
"Others will want to know more about the proposed closure of Cardigan community hospital to inpatients."
The health board's move led to Ceredigion council passing a motion of no confidence in the health board in December.
Cardigan hospital will remain open to outpatients but beds will be provided in nursing homes in the community.
The health board insists no beds will be lost to the county, with a new hospital in the pipeline.
A deal has been struck to open a £20m hospital in the town in the future, which includes a GPs' surgery.
Retired GP Dr William Roberts is a member of a protest group which was formed in response to the threat of downgrading Bronglais Hospital in 2006.
He fears that the problem of attracting GPs to mid Wales will increase.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, he said: "The problem of attracting GPs to mid Wales is becoming more of a problem because of heavy workloads and bureaucracy.
A Hywel Dda University health board spokesperson said it was committed to providing "high quality, safe, sustainable services" and was currently in the process of developing its three year plan with the help of clinical colleagues across the three counties.
The health board also welcomed the health minister's recent announcement for an independently-led consideration of "critical issues and possible solutions" over healthcare in mid Wales.
"The University Health Board believes that this piece of work, which will importantly help inform its service plan, is pivotal in supporting the future direction of services for the communities we serve in Ceredigion, north Powys and south Gwynedd," said a spokesperson.
It added it was "committed to fully engaging with its population," including a series of open days to "explore the future plans in greater detail when the above work has been concluded."