Hundreds protest outside Senedd over potential Royal Glamorgan Hospital A&E closure

Hundreds of campaigners protested outside the Senedd demanding the Accident and Emergency Department at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital remains open.

Any changes to health services are both deeply personal and emotive to those affected as well as being highly-charged politically.

Last month a health boss admitted the service at the hospital in Llantrisant isn't "as safe as they'd like it to be" and suggested it be closed for good.

Nick Lyons, Executive Medical Director for Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, told ITV Cymru Wales there have been incidents in the department directly related to the "fragility" of the current staffing model.

The proposals to downgrade the A&E department are part of a large-scale consultation.

It is designed to address major challenges in the health service in Wales, which include recruiting and retaining highly-skilled staff.

Under new proposals the A&E department could become a minor injuries unit, with enhanced community and primary care. Credit: ITV Wales

The arguments that better and safer services are available further away struggle to cut through when faced with the narrative of your local hospital being “downgraded.”

We’ve seen this in West Wales and again now with the A&E department at the Royal Glamorgan hospital.

Something that is already politically-charged has become even more so with an Assembly election looming in 2021.

Labour know health has become a challenge on the doorstep.

Some figures within the party think the performance of the health board in North Wales contributed to Labour's poor performance there during last year’s UK election.

But the Royal Glamorgan hospital is in the party's South Wales heartland.

It’s a Labour council, and Labour MPs and AMs locally know how damaging this row could be.

Leanne Wood took the Rhondda for Plaid Cymru in 2016 and Labour have hopes of retaking the seat. That’s why Plaid Cymru have been particularly vocal in trying to pin the problems on the Welsh Government.

Health has dominated previous Welsh elections and it seems this could be the defining issue of the next one too.