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Monday, June 30, 2014

Campaigner takes health boss on tour of Llan

A HEALTH chief recently took a see-for-himself tour of Llangollen in response to concerns about its NHS facilities.  

Dr Peter Higson, chair of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, was in the town at the personal invitation of campaigner Martin Crumpton to discuss accessibility to the planned £5 million health centre to be built on land off the A539 in Mill Street where the former River Lodge is currently being demolished.

Mr Crumpton also raised the issue of why Llangollen Cottage had been axed by the health board before the new health centre is ready.

He said the meeting “exceeded his expectations”.

With his wife Anne acting as driver, Mr Crumpton first took Dr Higson on a tour of the Pengwern area of the town, then down Regent Street to the current doctors’ surgery, round to Bishop’s Walk near the site of the new health centre and finally past the cottage hospital in Abbey Road.

Mr Crumpton, who had spent weeks arranging Dr Higson’s visit, said: “Without prompting, he picked up immediately on the steep walk through Pengwern, its `now you see it, now you don’t’ pavement and the relatively ideal location of the GP surgery.

“The length of the journey to the new health centre wasn’t lost on him either. I also showed him the pinch-point at the end of the arduous journey on Mill Street.

“Going past the old hospital, I refuted claims that it’s as decrepit as it’s been made out to be – far from it - and that the cost of refurbishing it would be a minor consideration compared to the cost of constructing the new health centre.

“I made the case that it was crazy to begin construction before Mill Street was sorted out, and that if successful use of it was dependent upon resolving that, then, in turn, it was also crazy to demolish the cottage hospital until it could be proved to be unnecessary.

“I made it clear to him that the town’s single biggest wish is to have our beds returned, but most of all I hope I impressed upon him that any decisions affecting this situation need to be made urgently.”

Mr Crumpton added: “It was well worth the effort and exceeded my expectations. We both came away with more clear pictures than we had before, in his case notably that what he thought was the situation here was, in reality, considerably different.”

Mr Crumpton recently submitted a Freedom of Information request to the health board asking for confirmation of the existence of a covenant restricting the use of the cottage hospital building. However, he received no confirmation of this from the board.
 
He says that during his tour of the town Dr Higson conceded that a covenant exists but added: “He told me the strength and consequence of it was for the legal people to sort out.”

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