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
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,
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
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
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
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.