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Friday, November 30, 2012

Watchdog seeks assurances over health changes

* Llangollen Cottage Hospital is earmarked for closure. 

While it “broadly supports” plans to close Llangollen Cottage Hospital and replace it with a new health centre, a watchdog body says it still needs assurances on a number of points.
North Wales Community Health Council, which safeguards the interests of NHS patients, has just submitted its official response plans for a major shake-up of services by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. 

Of the part of the plan which affects Llangollen, it says: “The CHC broadly supports the proposals for Llangollen Community Hospital services.  

“But we will not be sure that the proposals will serve the interests of people in Llangollen and its surrounding areas without further assurances from the health board about:  

 The way it will plan and deliver services with other organisations in the public, voluntary and independent sectors, and tell people how they can get access to the service  

 It’s plans to provide clinical services in Llangollen and its surrounding area in the time between the closure of facilities at Llangollen Community Hospital and the completion of a new primary care centre  

 Confirmation that the GP services in Llangollen are committed to the plans to deliver the new service

 It’s response to the particular needs of rural communities, including those to the West of Llangollen  

 The way it will work with care home providers to make sure its proposals in this area will work.”  

The CHC’s submission adds that it has “some serious concerns” about other aspects of the proposals for community hospitals.  

It explains: “We have seen little financial information or information about staffing plans. This means we cannot be sure that the health board has a financial and workforce plan which provides a firm basis for developing community and primary care services, or the proposals for providing enhanced care within people’s homes.  

“We are also concerned about the relationship between the health board and general practitioners in some areas. People, quite rightly, rely completely on these two sets of health care professionals to work together. We have seen and heard evidence that this is not the case everywhere.  

“Finally, the CHC is concerned that the health board’s proposals for community hospitals may represent an erosion of community-based services. This runs against a national policy which says that community hospitals play an important part in making sure people have easy access to the care they need. If people do not have easy access to services they may not seek help at the right time and when they do, the treatment may be less successful and more expensive.” 

Llyr Gruffydd, the Party of Wales Assembly Member for North Wales, said: “The Community Health Council’s response makes clear that in many instances, especially regarding community health services, there isn’t sufficient information to make an informed decision.
“Its report makes clear that there is insufficient information given in the consultation about staffing, finances and the fact that many of the recommendations conflict with the views of local GPs, the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing.
“Running down community hospitals is a key area of concern in this report and recent events, where roads were inaccessible and travelling hazardous, stress the need for local services to serve the community.
 “The pressure is mounting on Betsi Cadwaladr’s management to explain their proposals and how they will improve the health of the region.”

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