Pressure builds on minister over hospital downgrade claims

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths
Under pressure: Health Minister Lesley Griffiths AM Photo: Welsh Government

The opposition parties in the Assembly will today look to bounce back from their poor election performance last week, arguing that a document considered by the Welsh cabinet vindicates their warnings that district general hospitals will be downgraded.

The Conservatives have chosen for debate in the Senedd this afternoon a cabinet document entitled 'Together for Health -Why Change is Needed', which was considered by ministers in March but only released last week.

The expected consequences of meeting the case for change will mean ensuring a reduction in admissions to, and reliance on, hospital beds in district general hospitals.

The role of local community hospitals will need to be reviewed, ensuring an estate fit for purpose. Increasingly more out-patient clinics, diagnostic services and day-case surgery will need to be undertaken in the local community.

The number of sites providing 24/7 consultant-led accident and emergency services will need to be reduced as will the number of sites providing emergency general surgery services.

– Cabinet paper 'Together for Health -Why Change is Needed'

The document has been seized on because the Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths, has emphatically denied that any of the plans being considered by local health boards would mean the downgrading of a district general hospital or that she would allow that to happen.

At the same time government sources have been saying that the quality of care would be better -and money would be saved- if complex procedures were only carried out at a few specialist centres and that more routine treatment was provided in the community.

There will be pressure on Lesley Griffiths to acknowledge that she presented to her cabinet colleagues a document that makes the case for what the opposition parties insist is the downgrading of district general hospitals.