Villagers protest over plans to move Pentyrch Surgery to 'inaccessible' site

Around 100 people marched from the surgery's current location to its proposed new site. Credit: Richard Williams/Media Wales

Patients of a village surgery near Cardiff that is being re-located to a site two miles away have gathered in protest.

Around 100 people marched from Pentyrch to Rhydlarfar on Sunday with the aim of showing how impractical they believe it is.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board wants to move Pentyrch Surgery to an area just off Llantrisant Road in Rhydlafar.

The new site can only be accessed from Pentyrch by a busy main road or a narrow country lane without pavements, lighting or a bus service.

Protestors believe the local health board has not properly consulted them on its plans for the surgery's move. Credit: Richard Williams/Media Wales

A petition against the relocation has already been signed by more than 1,600 residents.

Locals have said the health board did not adequately consult them on the plans - a claim strongly refuted by the health board.

Mike Colley from the campaign group Pentyrch Save Our Surgery and Pharmacy said the protest was not against a new surgery being built, but the location and process.

He said the plans also go against Cardiff Council's aim for local amenities to be within a 15 minute walk or public transport ride from home.

"Rhydlafar is a village two miles away and inaccessible to all reliant on public transport to access basic health care services," Mr Colley said.

"The closure of the surgery will lead to the closure of Pentyrch Pharmacy so doubling the damage to even more residents of Pentyrch and surrounding villages."

Pentyrch Pharmacy is attached the surgery. Credit: Richard Williams/Media Wales

Local resident Eileen Boddington, 80, said it would take her two hours to walk the two miles there and back up a steep hill to the surgery.

"It's a complete farce. There is no bus service and only one taxi," she said.

"The only other way is to drive, but what about people who don’t have cars?"

Dawn Fackrell, 59, a full time carer for her disabled 28-year-old son, said she would have to consider moving if they could no longer walk to the GP and pharmacy - both of which they use regularly.

"My son has severe epilepsy, autism, learning difficulties and is at risk from sudden death syndrome," she said.

"He goes to the GP and pharmacy for prescriptions every three weeks - he has no choice. At the moment it is a five minute walk. If they moved the surgery he cannot get a bus.

"I don't want to move but I am in a dilemma. They are putting up barriers to people accessing their GP."

Campaigners feel the new site is not accessible from Pentyrch. Credit: Richard Williams/Media Wales

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said there has been a "robust and thorough engagement process" over the proposals, adding that it has complied with all legal requirements.

A spokesperson added that while the concerns of campaigners against the plans have been heard, there has been "significant support" from residents of Pentyrch and Rhydlafar.

The health board said it is working with patients and community representatives to ensure transportation needs of local patients are considered.

The engagement process involved not only patients registered with the practice but also people living in the surrounding areas who will potentially use the new surgery," the spokesperson continued.

"All views and observations received as part of the engagement have been taken into account and responded too accordingly.

"Despite the engagement process already reaching conclusion, as a gesture of goodwill and ongoing community relationships we accepted a petition from the Pentyrch Save our Surgery and Pharmacy group, and this was noted by the quality, safety and experience committee of the health board.

"As an organisation, we are committed to providing quality services that meet the needs of thee local population."