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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Floods should make health board re-think shake-up says AM

An Assembly Member claims the chief executive’s complaints that floods on the A55 caused transport problems for staff and patients of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board shows it should reconsider its controversial centralisation plans.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid member for North Wales, points out board Mary Burrows has just written to David Sissling, director general of NHS Wales, asking his assistance with other government departments to address the A55 flood risk
This, she says, has “yet again put at risk our ability, with Welsh Ambulance Service Trust, to provide continuity of service”.
Ms Burrows adds: “The closure of the A55 in at least two sections on Thursday, 22 November 2012 isolated many communities, affected staff getting home and coming into work and required deployment of our weather contingency plan. The West became virtually isolated.
“The only other road, the A5, which was accessible many hours later, is a single road that became completely overloaded with lorries. It was extremely difficult for ambulances to get to Ysbyty Gwynedd in any reasonable time.
Mr Gruffydd comented: "I share Mary Burrows' concern about the flooding of the A55 and the knock-on effects this had on local health services, in particular the ambulance service.
“There is a need to ensure the Welsh Government continues to improve flood defences rather than reducing spending on this important work for communities across Wales.
“However, we must also recognise that the A55 is vulnerable to one-off events like the recent flooding and traffic accidents. This is another reason why we should be questioning the proposal to centralise health services and, in the case of neonatal intensive care, moving it across the border to Arrowe Park.
“By this proposal the health board is expecting patients to travel ever-greater distances along a road that it is now saying is not fit for purpose.
"I will be raising this matter with the Health Minister and the Community Health Council as part of my objection to the centralisation proposals of the health board and hope that the board will also re-consider its plans.
“We have consistently raised concerns about the proposal to move new-born babies from across the North to the Wirral and last week's flood bore out the dangers of such a reliance on transport out of the community."

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