Health chiefs in Mid and West Wales have agreed a wide-ranging plan to cut services in some smaller hospitals and re-invest millions of pounds in new community facilities.
The plans have seen months of bitter campaigning with people living in Llanelli especially concerned about the downgrading of emergency facilities at their Prince Phillip Hospital.
The decisions made today by the Hywel Dda Health Board are similar to those being faced by health service planners right across Wales... an attempt to cope with an increasing demand on the NHS at a time when money is tight.
– TREVOR PURT, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, HYWEL DDA HEALTH BOARD
Careful consideration has been given throughout the whole process, not only to the depth and breadth of feedback we received, but also to other evidence including healthcare standards and the context the NHS is operating in.
This includes the very real challenges faced by the NHS across the UK such as recruitment difficulties and finance, as well as unique challenges such as our geographical location.
One proposal which attracted criticism was to turn Llanelli's Prince Philip Hospital's A&E department into a nurse-led "Urgent Care Centre."
Concerns were raised by the public that without a full A&E department patients would have to travel to Bronglais, Glangwili and Withybush Hospital.
The health board says it has "recognised' the concerns of the public and clinicians, however, a document released today shows that the full A&E department will no longer exist and in its place will be a 'doctor supported, nurse led' service.
– Hywel Dda Health Board
Medical emergency patients (e.g. patients with strokes, diabetes, infections and asthma attacks) will be admitted directly into Prince Philip Hospital through an Emergency Medical Admission Unit. This unit will be consultant led and available 24 hours, seven days a week, improving the assessment and management for the most unwell medical patients.
Other decisions include:
- Proposed closure of Mynydd Mawr Hospital to go ahead - more replacement facilities at Prince Philip than first proposed
- Proposed closure of minor injuries unit at Tenby Cottage Hospital to go ahead - now with 8-week pilot in summer when GP practice, pharmacy or voluntary sector will offer service
- Proposal to end orthopaedic surgery at Withybush Hospital is dropped, but patients from Pembrokeshire (and Carmarthenshire) needing complex procedures will go to Prince Philip
- High-dependency neonatal care to be concentrated at Glangwili as proposed - keeping obstetrics and pediatrics at Withybush depends on overcoming problems in recruiting doctors