North West Wales

Blaenau Ffestiniog health centre plan for memorial hospital site

Blaenau Ffestiniog Memorial Hospital
Image caption Blaenau Ffestiniog Memorial Hospital would cease to have inpatient beds

A Gwynedd community hospital should be developed as a health centre with no in-patient beds, says a long-awaited report for the Welsh government.

Blaenau Ffestiniog Hospital would offer services such as district nursing, chemotherapy and X-rays.

But patients needing to stay in hospital would be sent to Ysbyty Alltwen near Porthmadog.

Hospital supporters said they will fight to save the 12 in-patients beds which are allocated by GPs.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said it looked forward to receiving feedback before any decision is taken.

Campaigners have been working for seven years to try to preserve and improve services at the 87-year-old hospital.

The hospital was built in 1925 by contributions from local quarrymen, in memory of those died in World War I.

Ysbyty Alltwen, 13 miles (22km) away in Tremadog, opened in 2009.

The long-awaited report was commissioned by the then minister for health and social services, Edwina Hart, and was completed by Dr Edward Roberts, the vice chair of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board.

Three options

Professor Merfyn Jones, the chairman of the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board welcomed the report.

"It will help inform our wider plans to improve healthcare services across north Wales," he said.

"The health board looks forward to receiving feedback from the engagement process that is already has under way before any decisions are taken about the future configuration of services."

Dr Roberts said the first option of doing nothing was not a realistic option.

Option two would develop the memorial hospital as a health resource centre - a hub with services ranging from clinics, district nursing and X-ray - but with no in-patient beds.

The third option would see all those facilities, and no in-patient beds, but also the addition of the town's current GP practice being relocated there too.

"There would need to be a capital outlay to make this resource centre appropriate and fit for purpose," said Dr Roberts.

He said Blaenau Ffestiniog's future role would be to provide community health services, clinics and GP service, while Ysbyty Alltwen still had room available to accommodate more in-patients.

"This will act as an opportunity to develop enhanced facilities for those requiring nursing and end of life care, which are community based with joint provision by local government health and the third sector," he added.

Supporters of the hospital were quick to condemn the report's recommendations.

Gwynedd county councillor Linda Wyn Jones said there will be a "right royal battle before we allow them to change this to a no-bed facility".

Geraint Vaughan Jones, the chairman of the save the hospital campaign added Blaenau Ffestiniog was the third largest town in Gwynedd, after Bangor and Caernarfon, and a hospital was essential.

"We've organised an emergency meeting tonight to discuss these recommendations in detail," he added.

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