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Friday, September 28, 2012

Action group formed to safeguard Llan health services

AN action group has been formed to safeguard health services in Llangollen.

Its aim is to halt controversial proposals by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board which include closing the town's Cottage Hospital and replacing it with a new primary care health centre on another site in the town.
Members of the new Keep Llangollen Health Services  (KLHS) group – formed at a public meeting at The Hand Hotel on Thursday night – are deeply worried the new facility will take years to complete and will not include the in-patient beds or minor injuries unit currently offered by the hospital on Abbey Road.
The community hospital, which the health board says is outdated and in need of replacement, also provides a range of vital health services, such blood testing, and campaigners are concerned about whether these will continue to be provided locally during an expected gap of two or three years between it closing and a new centre opening.
Thursday’s meeting was called by Mabon Ap Gwynfor from Corwen, whose residents will also be hit by the closure of the hospital, he claims.
Mr Ap Gwynfor is on the staff of North Wales Plaid Cyrmu Assembly Member Llyr Gruffydd but he stressed his involvement in the campaign was on a personal level and was not connected to his work with the political party.
Residents opposed to the hospital closure plan called a public meeting at The Hand Hotel in August at which a local referendum on the proposal was demanded.
Last Wednesday, health board officials held three public consultation sessions in Llangollen Town Hall at which residents were briefed on the full range of health service changes planned for the region.
But Mr Ap Gwnfor said: “We don’t think all the questions we have about the proposals for change were answered at the sessions, which were more of a tick-box exercise.
“At the Hand public meeting there was a strong feeling that something ought to be done to oppose the hospital closure and retain existing services locally.
“What we have now decided on is to mount a focused and targeted campaign against it but we have only a short time to do this as the health board’s consultation exercise on the changes will finish at the end of October.”
Action plan agreed by the new group includes a demonstration at the next health board meeting, seeking the backing of politicians and other decision-makers, a leafleting campaign inviting affected residents to write in to the health board with their own objections and the setting up of a dedicated website to act as a focal point for the battle
KLHS will also liaise with other groups opposing health service changes, such as the one in Flint which recently organised a march through the streets of the town by 1,500 people fighting the closure of their own community hospital.
A further public meeting to co-ordinate the new campaign is being planned in Llangollen in the next few weeks. 
The group is also collecting personal accounts from local people about how important the Cottage Hospital has been in their lives over the years. 

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