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Friday, January 13, 2023

MS blasts Welsh Government for closing cottage hospital

* North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd.

A Plaid Cymru MS has taken aim at the Welsh Government for axing a community hospital in Llangollen.

Llyr Gruffydd, who represents North Wales in the Senedd, told Health Minister Eluned Morgan that the controversial closure of a network of community hospitals in the region is “contributing” to the acute crisis in the NHS.

The Minister has come under fire after the Welsh Government told health boards that some patients may need be sent home from hospital without care packages in place as demand for bed space soared.

In response to intense pressure to get to grips with the crisis, which has resulted in ambulances sitting outside of A&E for hours and incredibly low morale among staff, she announced that the Welsh Government has secured an additional 500 community beds for step-down care.

In a speech on the floor of the Senedd, Llyr Gruffydd criticised the Welsh Government for closing community hospitals in Flint, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Prestatyn, and Llangollen and argued that it was now trying to “recreate and rebuild” capacity that it had lost.

He told Senedd members that the Welsh Government had been “warned” that it would “regret” closing the hospitals, and asked if the Minister accepted that doing so was a “mistake”.

The closures, which were part of a shake up by Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, were fiercely protested by local communities at the time.

In response Eluned Morgan said that the community hospitals were “very expensive to run”.

Llyr Gruffydd MS said: “You say in your statement, Minister, that 12% of bed capacity in the NHS is now full as a result of delayed discharges, and in response to that, of course, you say that you've secured an additional 500 community beds for step-down care. Clearly, that is to be welcomed. It would be good to hear where they are.

“As a Member in north Wales, I would be interested in hearing how many of those are in north Wales. But of course, we had a network of community hospitals that used to provide exactly this step-down service across Wales. That capacity was lost—the capacity that you are now trying to recreate and rebuild—when community hospitals were closed in Flint, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Prestatyn, Llangollen, and so on.

“A number of us warned you at the time that you would regret doing that, because there's always a need for that step-down provision within the system, or—as we're currently seeing—the system is going to have blockages and we're going to end up with a situation where 12% of the bed capacity has suffered as a result of delayed discharges.

“So, do you accept that it was a mistake to close those community hospitals, particularly those across north Wales? Do you regret that that happened? Because there's no doubt that that's contributing at least in part to the crisis that general hospitals are now facing.”

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