|* The audience at last Thursday's meeting in the Hand Hotel.|
"Downgrading local service"
Plaid Cymru’s North Wales Assembly Member Llyr Gruffydd has described plans to close a community hospital and put patients in private care homes as “creeping privatisation” in the NHS.
Mr Gruffydd, who was speaking after a well-attended public meeting in the Hand Hotel last Thursday to discuss plans to close Llan Cottage Hospital, said: “The local health board’s proposal is to close the existing community hospital and use private care homes to take patients who can’t be treated at home.
"To me, that sounds like a creeping privatisation in our NHS by the Welsh Government as well as downgrading local services.
“We all want to see a better NHS and I’m happy to accept that some of the proposals to centralise care are for the better. But the proposal for Llangollen and its surrounding communities will mean the loss of beds and could cause greater problems at district general hospitals like Wrexham Maelor, which will face bedblocking.
"Dr Eamonn Jessup, chairman of the North Wales Local Medical Committee representing 200 GPs, has said: ‘This loss (of hospital beds) will bring a service that is currently frequently gridlocked, with no beds for the patients that it needs to serve, further to its knees.’"
Mr Gruffydd added: “Of course it’s not just the town of Llangollen affected by this planned closure. People from Corwen and other parts of the Vale will have to travel that much further, especially as Ruthin hospital is also being downgraded.
"Transport poverty is as big a problem as fuel poverty for this part of Denbighshire and affects those most likely to face ill-health and need to access medical services.
“Clinical issues are said to be driving this – but there are also financial issues and political pressure from the Labour Government in Cardiff.
"What isn’t being included is the impact of patients being more remote from loved ones – friends and family – while recovering. Medical experts say this is an important part of recuperation but I see no mention of this factor in the consultation document.
“Supporters of this closure are trying to spin the change as ‘enhancing the service’. I would suggest to local residents that they don’t buy that – we want to improve the NHS, we want a fitter, healthier population but the reality is that we have an ageing population living longer.
"Until those long-term strategies are in place we will need community beds at a local level.”