Pembrokeshire: Why Solva residents are rallying to save their only local GP surgery

Accessing healthcare has become an increasing challenge in many parts of Wales. 

But for the close knit community of Solva in Pembrokeshire, the tide has turned for their local surgery as the only GP in the practice has announced her retirement - leaving locals worried.

Janet Parnaby has lived in Solva for most of her life. She says losing the surgery would be a huge blow for the community.

"There’s been lots of meetings around the village and we’ve had Hywel Dda people down talking to us about what could happen," she said.

"There’s a big campaign in the village to try and save it. We can not afford to lose it. It’s essential."

The Surgery currently serves approximately 2,500 patients, and is a prescribing practice, providing medication for its own patients.

The community has been getting together to coordinate a campaign. Credit: ITV Wales

Hywel Dda Health Board says it's working with Solva Surgery to ensure the continued provision of GP services for patients.

It says locals should remain registered with the practice while longer term plans are developed.

Services will continue as normal until the end of March.

But for many, this isn’t enough. And at a coffee morning in the village hall, local residents had strong opinions on the matter.

Helen Hammond said: "My concern as a patient is that I’ve had serious surgery and I’ve had things like stitches and drains and stuff taken out with the practice nurses. What am I supposed to do if they’re gone?

"It’s not a case of ‘you can have the district nurses’ as the district nurses are stretched and they’re based in Fishguard which is 15 miles away.

"I feel very strongly that they should keep the surgery open."

Molly Page says she is concerned how the elderly people in the community will access healthcare locally. Credit: ITV Wales

Molly Page added: "We need a doctor here. There’s a load of old people that need looking after that don’t want to go far away - we need a doctor at the surgery."

From 1 April onwards, it's unclear what the provision will be. Patients could be dispersed to a surgery in St David's which is 15 minutes away or to two practices in Haverfordwest - which is half-an-hour from Solva.

Retired doctor Iain Robertson-Steel is concerned about the impact this could have on the wider community.

He said: "We’re having huge problems in Solva at the moment, even getting an ambulance. This is a worsening problem. 

"If we had patients in Solva with no primary care immediately available, more people would go to A&E, there’d be more ambulance calls, the quality of health care would deteriorate and it would put the NHS under enormous pressure.

"I’d like to see a managed salary GP practice service in rural areas across Wales. 

"It’s not just our surgery. It’s Solva Surgery today, it could be your surgery in any village, anywhere in Wales tomorrow."

The health board will make a decision on the future of the practice on 23 February, but residents are hoping the winds will change and they’ll be able to save their surgery. 

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