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Friday, August 17, 2012

Group seeks answers over Llan health shake-up

* Mike Edwards

llanblogger exclusive

Community group Keep Llangollen Special have called for a meeting with local health chiefs to seek answers to a number of vital questions surrounding the proposed closure of the Cottage Hospital and its replacement with a new health centre.

Group chair Mike Edwards has issued the following statement, which llanblogger bring you here, unedited:     

As Chair of Keep Llangollen Special a constructive Community Group I would like to
comment on recent speculative comments about the proposals recently published by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in relation to rationalisation of their services across the whole of their area.

Firstly this document takes quite a bit of absorbing because it extends to 139 pages
covering the Authority wide revised service delivery proposals and only outlines in specific sections how those revisions affect Llangollen.

Therefore before taking a definitive view on these proposals the Group consider they need further information and we have requested a meeting with representatives from BCUHB to find out what exactly is proposed and the timing of these proposals.

We also propose to meet with relevant local stakeholders to confirm that they have been properly consulted and what their views are on the proposals.

We are also speaking with our democratically elected representatives particularly Ken Skates AM, Councillors Rhys Hughes, Stuart Davies and Phil Thane, the latter being a member of Keep Llangollen Special.

I wish to make it clear that Mr. Skates has been helpful in seeking information and clarification from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board which has enabled us to discover:

1. The Llangollen Community Hospital is likely to close early in 2013 and the Health
Board propose to sell the property;

2. Their Home Enhanced Care Scheme is already apparently progressing well and
BCUHB envisage all health services will ultimately delivered from a new Primary Care Centre;

3. However the Health Board have to submit a full business case to Welsh Government to acquire the former Woodlands Hotel now referred to as Riverside Lodge where they propose to build the Primary Care Centre.

They will also need to obtain planning consent for the development;

4. This means that the Health Board envisage the new health centre would not be open until late 2014/early 2015;

5. The local GP practice would apparently prefer a hospital with beds, but the Health
Board have not been specific that the new centre would include such facilities and refer to in-patient care being provided in Chirk and/or in nursing homes (no locations defined):

The big concern with these proposals is that the Llangollen Community Hospital is likely to close very soon, but the replacement Primary Care Centre will not open until 2015 without allowing for delays in BCUHB's scheme.

It is also of great concern that the Health Board­ seem not to wish to include in-patient facilities which will lead to Llangollen residents (patients and relatives) having to travel out of town to Chirk, Wrexham or wherever.

There is also a fear that services will be lost in the two year period between
closure of the existing hospital and opening of the new Health Centre.

The current Health Centre in Regent Street is conveniently located in the centre of town enabling able bodied patients to walk to see their GP, be it from the A5 or Abbey Road side of town.

Location of a centre at the Riverside Lodge will fail Welsh Governments Planning
Policies in relation to sustainability because it will increase vehicle journeys being located on the edge of the built up area on a busy main road with either narrow or no pavements making it extremely difficult for patients to visit.

If the Health Boards Scheme goes ahead we need assurances that capital receipts from the sale of the hospital and Oakleigh will be re-invested in Llangollen and that these sites will be developed for users which are acceptably to the Community. There will also be a question as to what happens to the existing health centre after the GP Practice moves out and that there are no knock on loss of facilities out of the town centre such as Pharmacy, Dentistry which the Health Board mention may be relocated to the new "Out-of-Town” Primary Care Centre.

These proposals could further endanger the vitality and viability of the existing town centre.

There are many questions to be answered and it is hoped that a forthcoming public
consultation by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will provide Llangollen
residents with acceptable answers. Keep Llangollen Special will keep residents informed as further information is provided and our questions are answered. 

Mike Edwards
Chair Keep Llangollen Special

The full BCUHB report can be seen at:
Llangollen Cottage Hospital is referred to on pages 41 and 42.

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