Health campaigners in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire have formed an action committee aimed at providing a joint response to the radical and controversial hospital changes put forward by the Hywel Dda Health Board which is responsible for providing the Health Service in the two counties.
The Health Board has proposed three options: Withybush hospital in Pembrokeshire losing its general hospital status, plus Accident & Emergency Service; Glangwili hospital in Carmarthen losing its A&E service and Prince Philip hospital in Llanelli either being reduced to a community hospital or providing a general hospital service. The Health Board is proposing to build a new hospital and provide what they call a series of “community hubs” which will provide health services closer to the community.
The newly formed action committee entitled “Communities in Unison” is made up of local politicians and trade union leaders from Llanelli, Carmarthen and Pembroke. The committee is also supported by health academic, Professor Tony Beddow, secretary of the Wales Socialist Health Association.
Jeff Baker, UNISON regional organiser, said
“Our committee recognises that each community will be concerned and will fight to retain the services in their local hospitals. However, this has the potential of setting communities against each other and therefore there is a need to agree on common concerns over the proposals and present a united front to the Health Board”.
Mr Baker explained that the committee had already identified a number of common concerns to bring the communities together such as:
- How long would it take to design and build the new hospital and how does the Health Board know that a new hospital would cope with the additional demand?
- How will all existing services be preserved meantime and what is the planned safe transit over to the new services if they are agreed?
- Exactly what range of services would be provided in the new proposed community hubs and are there clear plans and funding to integrate the community hub services with local authorities to provide integrated health and social care services?
Another member of the group is the Member of Parliament for Llanelli, Nia Griffith, who said,
“It was good to meet with UNISON colleagues from Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire to discuss the Hywel Dda’s consultation.
“There is still lots that the Board needs to explain such as exactly what facilities would be available in which places under which options. We want to get the best services for our communities, and hearing from the employees how they see the proposed changes gives us really valuable information.”
UNISON Branch Secretary, Nadia Probert who works at Withybush Hospital said “Our committee fully respects the views and entitlement of each community to put forward their own responses to the proposals, however, we also think it’s important for the communities to unite by questioning and scrutinising exactly how the proposals will work”.
The newly formed action committee “Communities in Unison” plans to carry on its work of drawing the communities together and intends to request a meeting with Health Board officers to question and present a joint response to the proposals.
Notes for editors
Statement from Communities in Unison
“Communities in Unison” agree with the need for change put forward by the Health Board and in particular, welcome the proposals for the community hubs providing health and social care closer to the community. However, the committee believes that more work needs to be done in making clear plans for achieving guaranteed revenue and capital funding and ensuring the preservation of existing services and safe transit to the new proposals. Also, the committee notes that there is no clear plan between the Health Board and the local authorities. Therefore, the committee will be expanding its campaign with the local authorities in Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion.
Committee members to date include:
- Nia Griffith, MP for Llanelli
- Deryk Cundy, Llanelli councillor
- Marc Tierney, Pembrokeshire health campaigner
- Jeff Baker, regional organiser for UNISON
- Nadia Probert, UNISON Hywel Dda branch secretary
- Professor Tony Beddow, secretary of the Welsh Socialist Health Association
Jeff Baker, UNISON Regional Organiser on 01792 483925 / 07929 002014
Alastair Gittins, UNISON press officer on 07816 53 83 97