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Prince Philip to retain ‘acute hospital services’ following consultation

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THE HEALTH BOARD has presented its recommendations to major changes in the way health services are delivered in west Wales today (Sept 26) – and Prince Philip Hosptial will retain ‘acute hospital services’.

The biggest change is plans to downgrade Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen and Withybush General Hospital in Pembrokeshire.

At the meeting at County Hall, Carmarthen, the Hywel Dda UHB presented outputs from its recent consultation on the future provision of health and care services to the general population together with a clinical recommendation which will be considered by the Board.

The health board’s recommendation has now been published.

The recommendations were:

• Bronglais and Prince Philip in Llanelli will retain ‘acute hospital services’
• Glangwili and Withybush will be downgraded – they will be ‘repurposed’ to offer a range of services to support a social model for health and well-being, designed with local people to meet their needs.
• A new urgent and planned care hospital will be developed in the south of the health board area.

This is not the final decision, but at this stage a recommendation.

A further detailed meeting is scheduled for the end of November. If the local community health council refuses to back the plan then it could be sent to Health Secretary Vaughan Gething for a final decision.

However, Mr Gething warned earlier this year that NHS services in Wales could ‘collapse’ without urgent transformation and called on politicians from all parties to be ‘grown up’ and to not ‘run away’ from difficult choices.

Campaigners may also ultimately try to challenge the health board’s plans in the courts – although previous attempts to overturn decisions were unsuccessful.

March: Campaigners wanted to retain all Withybush General Hospital’s services (Pic Herald)

One of the recommendations in the board papers is to develop plans for the new hospital. The board is asked to progress consideration of location options within the defined new hospital zone, between Narberth and St. Clears, through a formal feasibility study.

  • Work with local people to develop models to provide enhanced support to those communities furthest from main urgent care and hospital services.
  • Consider the impact and opportunities a new hospital in the south of the Health Board area would provide to Bronglais General Hospital.
  • Develop a plan for the approach to managing emergency conditions which are time-sensitive.

Chair of the Community Health Council Dr John Morgan said: “In our day-to-day work we’re clear that the public’s frustrations come from big problems in the health system, so over the coming years the whole system has to change to give people what they need. For that reason we think the Health Board should continue to make major system-wide plans.

“However, some of the proposed changes have really worried people. Given that we feel any change to health services must provide better quality health services to the public these changes need to be looked at individually with more public involvement. With a number of the proposed changes years away the Health Board needs to provide more detail on how they would work. Only then will the CHC be in a position to consider whether we think the more controversial changes are in the public’s best interests.”

The CHC has seen how people are welcoming more care being provided in community settings close to home.

People are less happy about placing any services further away especially if they needed care in an emergency.

Public involvement in the consultation and large-scale petitions has communicated these views loud and clear.

Dr Morgan continued: “Listening to what the public have said, the consultation has created as many questions as answers. We think that there need to be strong foundations in place to build a new system upon. This means GP practices that are more robust, well-functioning established community services, better use of technology and better travel and transport arrangements, to name but a few.”

Chief Officer Sam Dentten added: “We’re starting a long journey over the next few years. We welcome change because it’s needed, but that change must bring accessible, high quality and safe NHS services. The Health Board must commit to more engagement with the public as its plans unfold and the CHC will be listening closely, maintaining our right to take matters further if we don’t think the change is in the public interest.”

Lee Waters AM and Nia Griffith MP welcome retention of services at Prince Philip General Hospital

Lee Waters AM said: “I’m glad that the Health Board listened to the strong representations that Nia and I made to them. Turning Prince Phillip into a Community Hospital was not on.”

Nia Griffith MP said: “We welcome the announcement today by the Hywel Dda Health Board to keep Prince Philip Hospital as a General Hospital and to keep acute medicine here in Llanelli, and I welcome close cooperation with ABMU, the Swansea Health Board.”

But both warned that the move of some of the planned operations out of Prince Phillip and all from Glangwili hospital into a new purpose built super-hospital near Whitland will need to be carefully managed.

Nia Griffith said: “The new hospital will be an hour away by car for most people in the Llanelli constituency, and many will be closer to hospitals in Swansea and along the M4. It’s essential that there are no bureaucratic boundaries between the health boards which get in the way of people being treated as close to home as possible.”

Lee Waters added: “About 25% of households don’t have a car and we need to make sure they can easily access the healthcare they need. And we need to make sure we can the most of digital communication so that people can have face-to-face contact without always needing to travel.”

The MP and AM will tell Health Secretary Vaughan Gething that Prince Philip needs to receive continued investment to secure a long term future.

Nia Griffith MP added: “We will be keeping close watch on the further development of the Board’s thinking on emergency, urgent and planned care.”

Lee Waters also said he was very concerned about the announcement that mental health services for the most serious cases will be provided outside of the area.

He added: “I’m worried that the new Mental Health treatment unit that was being planned for Llanelli will now be placed at the proposed new hospital near Whitland, alongside the planned new assessment unit. Llanelli is still on course to have a Community mental health centre, but that will not deal with more serious cases. Nia and I will be meeting with the Health Board to discuss this.”

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Swansea Bay City Deal leaders are supporting Neath Port Talbot Council’s proposals for changes

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SWANSEA Bay City Deal leaders are supporting Neath Port Talbot Council’s proposal to amend some of their projects due to be part-funded by the £1.3 billion investment programme.

Any amended or enhanced projects, they say, will be progressed through City Deal governance and approval processes before submission to the Welsh Government and UK Government for consideration.

This follows on from the City Deal’s Joint Committee accepting all recommendations arising from two reviews into the City Deal, which included enabling flexibility in the investment programme to bring new projects in if they’re beneficial to the region.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee Chairman, says a Neath Port Talbot Council call for the City Deal to change approach is also being put in place.

Cllr Stewart said: “As a Joint Committee, we have accepted all recommendations from the City Deal reviews, and work is ongoing to implement them as soon as possible.

“These include the appointment of an independent programme director to manage the City Deal, as well as flexibility to amend or enhance projects forming part of the investment programme if they’re good for the region.

“The City Deal is still at an early stage of its development, but we’re doing all we can to make governance and project approval processes more efficient to speed up the investment programme’s delivery.

“It would be too great a risk for communities and businesses in Neath Port Talbot to miss out on City Deal investment, so we stand ready to help Neath Port Talbot Council move their projects forward.

“All City Deal partners remain committed to delivery. It’s widely recognised that the City Deal presents a once in a generation opportunity to create considerable economic growth and well-paid jobs across the region as a whole.”

The independent review into the City Deal commissioned by both governments recommended immediate approval for two City Deal projects – the ‘Yr Egin’ creative sector development in Carmarthen, and the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District.

Cllr Stewart said: “We expect funds to be released for these projects imminently.

“We also welcome Neath Port Talbot Council’s continued commitment to the regional Homes as Power Stations project, which will help people save money on their energy bills by introducing cutting-edge energy-efficient technology to both new houses and existing buildings throughout South West Wales.”

The Swansea Bay City Deal investment programme is due to be funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector. It’s being led by the four regional councils – Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea – in partnership with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea University, Hywel Dda University Health Board and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board.

The City Deal is projected to create over 9,000 high-quality jobs and give the regional economy a £1.8 billion boost in coming years.

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A476: Lorry fire closes LLannon to Tumble road

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Emergency services dealt with a lorry fire on the A476, Llannon to Tumble road, Carmarthenshire

The incident took place on Tuesday afternoon (Apr 16)

The road was closed for a short time whilst the fire was extinguished.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown.

No one was reported injured in the fire.

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Almost 100 jobs to go at Calsonic Llanelli

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A MAJOR Llanelli employer is to shed almost a quarter of its employees following what it describes as a ‘significant drop-off in sales’.

Calsonic Kansei, based says that continuing political and economic uncertainty have contributed to its decision to lay off 95 workers at its Lleithri Road factory on the outskirts of the town.

Calsonic were offered £4.4m from the Welsh Government to create 88 jobs at the plant late last year.

Llanelli’s local AM, Lee Waters, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for the Economy and Nia Griffith MP issued a joint statement about the jobs blow.

Lee Waters AM said “Nia Griffith and I will be doing what we can to work with the company, trade unions and other employers in the area to help the workers directly affected. And the Welsh Government will be extending the taskforce helping workers at Schaeffler to offer practical support.”

“Calsonic were offered significant Welsh Government help to develop new products at the end of last year, and we will continue to do what we can to help create a sustainable future for the site, through what is clearly a troubling period.”

Nia Griffith MP said “The next month will be a difficult period for the workers and their families at Calsonic, both Lee and I are ready to do whatever we can to help anyone affected. Alongside working directly with the factory staff and the trade unions, I’ll be using my voice in Parliament to ask the UK Government to match Welsh Government’s ongoing commitment to the plant and the workforce.”

Calsonic’s vice-president of HR for Europe, Neil O’ Brien, said: “The automotive industry is at a transitional stage, as well as being at a key point in several major vehicle ‘life cycles’, with car manufacturers developing their technologies to satisfy the ever demanding environmental legislation and moving towards autonomous and electric vehicles.

“During this period of transition, the added pressures of market instability caused by the political and economic conditions have affected our customers’ volumes and, consequently, Calsonic Kansei’s sales have seen a significant drop.

“The company intends to do everything reasonably possible to reduce the impact of this proposal on its employees.”

In January Schaeffler announced plans to close its plant in Leave-voting Llanelli with a loss of 200 skilled jobs.

Schaeffler also cited uncertainty about the UK’s economic and political future as being partially responsible for its decision.

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