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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Public briefed on big health shake-up

llanblogger special report

There will definitely be no in-patient beds or minor injuries unit in the new primary care centre proposed to replace Llangollen Cottage Hospital.

And the planned new centre would not be open before the hospital is closed.
However, every effort would be made to provide services lost from the hospital in the local area.
These were the main messages which came from health chiefs at Wednesday evening’s public briefing at Llangollen Town Hall on proposed service changes across the region.
The 6pm gathering was the last of three sessions held at the same venue during the day and attracted just over 20 local people.
* Geoff Lang.
Soundings taken at these and similar meetings across the region will be taken into consideration before the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which is proposing the changes, makes up its mind on what exactly will happen, possibly in December.
Seven key members of the board were on the panel.
Director of primary, community and mental health Geoff Lang outlined plans to close the Cottage Hospital and replace it with a new “extended primary care centre”.
From the new facility, he said, social services, the voluntary sector and mental health staff could work closer with resident the resident team of professionals.
While there are currently 10 in-patient beds at the hospital, Mr Lang was clear there would be none in the new centre, with localised in-patient services being provided instead at Chirk Hospital or, for the elderly, in private care homes where these were closer to their homes.
Mr Lang added it was not proposed to provide a minor injuries unit in the new centre, either.
However, he explained that conversations had been taking place with local GPs on whether they might be able to provide minor injuries services in the future.
Questioned from the floor of the meeting on whether phlebotomy (blood) services would be available in the new unit, he said “yes, absolutely”.
A number of points were raised by local county councillor Stuart Davies who said the general view in Llangollen was that the Cottage Hospital was very old and that a new facility to replace it would be welcomed.
He said there were difficulties with the site earmarked for the new centre, currently occupied by the derelict River Lodge  hotel, which were mainly traffic related as it bordered the main A539 road.
Cllr Davies said it had been suggested a bridge could be built over the river to link the site with the town. 
He added local people would like to see at least four in-patient beds in the new centre but conceded that health professionals had said this was not going to happen.
Mr Lang came back to make it clear that “everything, but not the beds, that goes on at Llangollen Hospital will be provided in a primary care centre”.
Cllr Davies then raised the issue of how the proposed changes would be timed, pointing out: “We don’t want to see the hospital closed before a new centre opens”.
The same point was made by town mayor, John Haddy, who added that if there was a two or three year gap between the two and patients became used to having to travel to receive these services elsewhere, this might take pressure off the health board to provide a new health centre in the town.
Mr Lang replied: “Timing is very important. Enhanced care (for the elderly in their own homes) will come on line at the same time or before we close the hospital beds.
“As for the other services, we are looking at ways of keeping these in Llangollen before the primary care centre is provided.”
He suggested that these services might be provided at the existing Llangollen health centre.
Mr Lang added: “We recognise the fears and concerns that if these services go out of the area we might never bring them back.”
He said that across the south Wrexham health area – of which Llangollen is part – about £550,000 would be provided – mainly to cover the cost of extra staff – for enhanced care provision.
Martin Crumpton, who has been active in the campaign to save the Cottage Hospital and was the organiser of a recent move to hold a local referendum on the issue, asked for a straight answer on the timing of the changes in Llangollen, given that building a new primary care centre could take three years.
He also pointed out that the provision of a suitable site for the new facility would be subject to the planning system.
The board’s director of planning Neil Bradshaw (pictured right) said it was guaranteed that alternative services would be in place when the hospital closed.

He added that the Woodlands hotel was the preferred site but that if this could not go ahead the board would have to find another way of delivering its objective.
However, he admitted that Llangollen was a “really challenging area” when it came to finding a suitable site
And he conceded: “We will not have provided the new primary care centre         before the hospital is closed.”
From the floor of the meeting the point was made that there was no evidence the 10 beds at the Cottage Hospital were not needed.
The speaker, a local resident, said that, in fact, as soon as one of the beds became empty there was a queue to fill it.
This won applause from the audience.
The meeting, which was presided over by independent chairman Meirion Hughes, closed after just over 90 minutes.
* A public meeting will be held tonight (Thursday) at The Hand Hotel, starting at 7pm.

It has been called by North Wales Plaid Cyrmu Assembly member Llyr Guffydd in an attempt to persuade local people to orgaise a structured campaign against the hospital closure, similar to the one which saw 1,500 people take part in march through the streets ast week to protest against the proposed closure of Flint Community Hospital.

1 comment:

  1. The whole situation with putting a health centre at River Lodge is a disgrace, just a backroom deal between Labour politicians and the Health Board in order to get rid of the Powys Fadog project. It's all there in black and white. The wellbeing and healthcare of local people should not suffer because of self interested politicians and their mates using health provision in Llan as a political football. Poor Government policy is bad enough but this situation in Llangollen warrants an independant Public Inquiry.

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