The biggest trade union for healthcare workers has told Hywel Dda health board it has more work to do to convince staff and local people of the merit of its plans to change hospital services.
UNISON today (Thursday) released its formal submission to Hywel Dda’s consultation and said the lack of detail of how and when new health services will be operational, has set communities against each other as they fight to protect their local accident and emergency services.
The trade union cited the board’s failure to properly consult the staff trade unions before the proposals appeared in the press, as one of the reasons the public distrusts the plans.
UNISON also suggested people are sceptical about reorganisation because previous restructuring of A&E and maternity services at Hywel Dda has not proved sustainable.
Jeff Baker, UNISON regional organiser, said,
“Anyone working in the NHS would like to bring care closer to the public and Hywel Dda’s plans of community hubs are promising and ambitious.
“To convince the people to get behind change of this scale however, you need detailed information which considers every eventuality of how patients will be treated in the new system. That work has not been done. The public have every right to press Hywel Dda on what their future access to emergency care will look like and the staff need answers too. The trade unions haven’t been given the opportunity to meet with the board during the consultation period.
Nadia Probert, UNISON branch secretary, said,
“Our submission presents a series of scenarios asking how those in ill-health, young and old and those in remote areas, will be able to access treatment. The health board must be able to answer these comprehensively. People need to know how services will be coordinated, developed and funded and how healthcare demand is calculated. Without this information, UNISON can’t support the proposals.
“We need to hear from Welsh government too. It must fully-fund the proposed changes, help the board with strategic advice and also give additional funding to local government to allow for the prompt release of patients into the community.”
Last month UNISON brought together local politicians and health campaigners together in an action committee to campaign on common concerns on the restructuring proposals.
Donna Hutton, UNISON Cymru Wales head of health said,
“Other health boards in south Wales are also evaluating future service provision and it is absolutely essential the proper work is done at Hywel Dda and the staff trade unions provided with all the information they are seeking.”
Notes for editors
- UNISON’s submission to the Hywel Dda health board consultation, ‘Our big NHS change’, is available here.
- The action committee entitled “Communities in Unison” is made up of local politicians and trade union leaders from Llanelli, Carmarthen and Pembroke and a health academic. 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
- Tony Beddow, secretary of the Welsh Socialist Health Association and former chief executive of the West Glamorgan health authority
- 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.
- Previous changes at Hywel Dda: downgrading of the A&E service at Prince Philip and the removal of the Special Care Baby Unit, maternity services and paediatric services from Withybush
Alastair Gittins, UNISON press officer on 07816 53 83 97