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Friday, February 8, 2013

Watchdog responds to row over health services

A watchdog body has given a measured response to claims that health chiefs have “jumped the gun” by making changes to some local services - including those at Llangollen Cottage Hospoital - earlier than expected.    

However, the Community Health Council concedes the changes made some people disappointed and even angry.

llanblogger reported on Tuesday that minor injuries services are to be withdrawn from Llangollen Cottage Hospital over the next two weeks 

The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) also revealed that, since Monday of this week, the hospital has been accepting no new admissions and that its staff are being re-deployed to other units.  

The Abbey Road hospital  is earmarked for closure as part of a major shake-up of health services approved by the board last month.  

But the two moves have come as a surprise blow to campaigners fighting to retain health services in Llangollen who thought they would have longer before the changes went into effect – at least until they had been fully considered by patients’ watchdog body, the Community Health Council (CHC), which has until March 1 to decide on whether to formally object to the change proposals.  

A spokesperson for campaign group Keep Llangollen Health Services (KLHS) said the moves made a “mockery” of the consultation process. 

BCUHB said the moves had been made because “There is a risk that other services could become more difficult to operate safely as staff start to look at alternative roles and opportunities within the Health Board.”  

Now, in its own response to the developments, the Community Health Council has issued a statement which says:  “Representatives of the CHC were at the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board meeting on Friday 18th January to hear its decisions about proposals to change some health services in North Wales.  

“The Health Board has changed some of its plans in response to what the CHC and others said during the consultation – and we are very pleased about that.” 

It goes on: “A special meeting of the CHC’s Executive Committee was held on the 28th January 2013. This meeting was convened to give CHC members the opportunity to raise any further representations following the health board’s decisions on service changes.  

“The CHC is aware that the health board has now decided to implement some of the changes to services and that in some cases these changes have been undertaken on the grounds of patient safety.  

“Under the Guidance for Engagement for and Consultation on changes to health services, the health board can legally effect service changes and is not obliged to wait for the CHC’s final response on other issues.  

The CHC has had many calls from people who are very disappointed - indeed angry that the board has turned its face against arguments made against some of its plans.  

“Our job now is to talk through the health board’s final decisions and the CHC is responsible for assessing the proposals in a detailed and consistent way.  

“If the CHC refers any of the decisions to the Minister, we will be called to explain to an independent panel exactly why we think they are not in the interest of local people or the health service. This is why the CHC has matched every proposal to the criteria it set out several months ago. And we will do the same for this final set of decisions. 

“We have until the 1st March 2013 to complete this work and decide whether we should lodge any formal objections.”

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