South West Wales

Hywel Dda Health Board: Plan to shut community hospitals

Plans for significant changes to the NHS in mid and west Wales have been announced by Hywel Dda Health Board.

Under the proposals, the accident and emergency department at Llanelli's Prince Philip would be replaced by an accident centre staffed by nurses.

Community hospitals would close at Mynydd Mawr, Tregaron and Aberaeron, with services lost from another two at Tenby and Pembroke Dock.

The board has promised a £40m investment for community centres.

These health centres will be at Aberaeron, Cardigan, Carmarthen, Cross Hands, Crymych and Whitland.

It is estimated the changes would mean a 20% reduction in acute hospital beds and 80% of NHS services would be provided through primary community and social care teams.

According to the health board, the proposed community hospital changes will save £3.3m.

Construction of a "community resource centre" in place of Tregaron will start next year.

Cut cost

Staff from Tenby and South Pembrokeshire hospitals will be redeployed to Withybush and GP surgeries will take over a minor injuries service.

Consultant-led obstetric services will continue at Bronglais, Glangwili and Withybush hospitals and paediatric high dependency care will be centralised at Glangwili.

The proposals also say that Prince Philip Hospital will become a specialist centre for orthopaedic and dementia care.

Discussions are also set to take place on developing the Welsh Air Ambulance, which could mean upgrading helicopters so they can fly in all weather conditions.

Overall, the health board said the re-modelling of services would lead to a £14.8m reduction in its cost base by 2015/16.

It insisted that none of the proposed changes will take place until it is "safe and appropriate to do so".

Plaid Cymru councillor Gwyneth Thomas, who is also a staff nurse at A&E at Prince Philip Hospital, fears patients' lives could be at risk.

"The unit treated well over 30,000 patients last year. Where will people go for emergency treatment," she said.

"It's very disappointing indeed that no notice has taken of the very strong concerns on people in Llanelli, including the 24,000 who signed a petition opposing downgrading."

The proposals will be subject to 12 weeks' public consultation.

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