Prince Philip Reprieved Following Long Campaign

Special report by Alan Evans and Iwan Lewis

WEST Wales will get a new hospital as part of a shake up of the NHS as proposed by and backed by the Hywel Dda University Health Board today, Wednesday (Sep 25) at a meeting at County Hall

The new hospital will be built subject to a full business case being made to the Welsh Government. It would be located between Narberth and St Clears with Withybush, Haverfordwest and Glangwili, Carmarthen losing round-the-clock A&E services under the new plans.

Prince Philip in Llanelli will remain a centre for acute medicine. Campaigners from Llanelli  and the Amman Valley had made their way to the meeting having already camped out outside prince Philip hospital for a number of days.

The SOSPPAN group had also gathered thousands of signatures on a petition calling for Hywel Dda not to downgrade the hospital and to retain its services. That petition was handed in at the Senedd recently.

Although there will be winners and losers if plans do move forward there remains a big question over the financing with the Health Board relying on the Labour Welsh Government to cough up.

Campaigners arrive: Photo Rachel Thomas

With many Labour politicians already having lent themselves to the campaign to improve health services in West Wales it would be somewhat of an own goal if WAG did not come up with the goods.


Speaking to our reporter Iwan Lewis following the meeting Steve Moore the CEO of Hywel Dda said:

“I think it is a really important moment for the health board after a long period of engagement and  consultation. It is important that we decide the strategic direction we are going in for many reasons that we set out today. So I think it is very important for us that we have a strategy for the people of West Wales”

Bird’s eye view but poor sound: Reporter Rachel Thomas was ushered to the public gallery

Asked what difference the plans would make to an 85-year-old with health issues Steve Moore said: “If you do need to go into hospital firstly that  the emergency system and the planned care system is much better organised so that you won’t get cancelled. We have a seen a significant amount of cancellations in the last few years and indeed the waiting times and appointments. This should be improved as well. When you then need to back to your local community there will be the beds and support in the local community to enable you to get well again.”

Discussions outside: Campaigners meet with Health Board executives

Asked about finances and a shrinking pot of money for the NHS in Wales the CEO said: “There certainly are challenges, but if we get this right then we can significantly reinvest in our primary community services because at the moment we are supporting a very dispersed  system of looking after people in an emergency or an urgent situation than we are staffed to do . We are spending a lot of money on urgency Locum staff. If we get this right and bring these things together we can better marshal our resources to spend the money on the places the people told us where they really want us to spend their money, getting access to their local primary team and getting access to community services and so on.”

Asked whether ambulance waiting times would improve he said:  “They’ve been a huge challenge and we have seen that over the last few years not only in our board but right across the UK. The ambition here is to ensure that all of the indicators that we use will improve because think what the clinicians are telling us is that if we bring our resources together in itself, we can do better in both the front door with ambulances getting there as quickly as they can and being released, but also for people in those beds to get back into their local communities quickly so we think that the whole system will be much more efficient if we get this right.”

Asked about the future of Prince Philip Hospital Steve Moore said: “The discussion we are in with Llanelli is recognition that although we are a very rural area Llanelli does have its own challenges. I think we need to continue to work with our local communities and to see how our thoughts develop around community work and of course work closely with the other health board AMBU to make sure that all of our plans work out so Prince Phillip is a really important part of that overall discussion.”

Speaking about her relief that Prince Philip Hospital would not be downgraded said: “I welcome the announcement by the Hywel Dda Health Board to keep Prince Philip Hospital as a General Hospital and to keep acute medicine here in Llanelli, and I welcome closer cooperation with ABMU, the Swansea Health Board.

I will be keeping close watch on the further development of the Board’s thinking on emergency and urgent care.”

The news comes after thousands signed a petition demanding Prince Philip be protected from any future downgrading or replacing further afield.

Nia Griffith MP

“I welcome the announcement by the Hywel Dda Health Board to keep Prince Philip Hospital as a General Hospital and to keep acute medicine here in Llanelli, and I welcome closer cooperation with ABMU, the Swansea Health Board.

I will be keeping close watch on the further development of the Board’s thinking on emergency and urgent care.”

The news comes after thousands signed a petition demanding Prince Philip be protected from any future downgrading or replacing further afield.

Pleased with result: Lee Waters AM

Lee Waters AM said:” I am really pleased that our campaign to save Prince Philip as a General Hospital has succeeded. This morning in Carmarthen the Health Board announced they were dumping their idea of downgrading Prince Philip to a community hospital and they have said that acute services will stay in Prince Philip. It is down to our campaign working with Nia Griffith MP, the SOSPPAN campaigners and all of you who submitted consultation responses. We have succeeded in getting them to listen. Now we need to make sure that the investment continues to come into Prince Philip to make it the hospital we need and Llanelli deserves.

Lots of people won’t be satisfied: Labour’s Marc Tierney

Campaigners and politicians from further West were not so happy with the outcomes of the meeting. Speaking to Iwan Lewis from Llanelli Online Labour’s Marc Tierney said: In terms of what we have heard this morning there will be lots of people across the region who won’t be satisfied. You can watch the video interview here:

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