Lee Waters AM has stated that he is ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the proposals that Hywel Dda have published, which include a consultation to downgrade PPH from a general hospital to a community hospital.
The Llanelli AM said: “For the last two years they’ve been telling me that they regard Llanelli’s Prince Philip hospital as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the health board, and the minor injury unit as one of the few in the country to meet its targets despite treating a growing number of patients.
“And now they are consulting on a proposal to downgrade our General Hospital to a Community Hospital. Well, let me tell them in very simple language what my response is: NO WAY.
“It is daft to expect people to travel from Llanelli to Whitland. They must surely know that this is a non-starter and raising this unrealistic prospect in the first place is going to cause unnecessary anxiety.
“I have made clear to the Chief Executive of the Health Board that Nia Griffith and I will fight the suggestion tooth and nail.
“I sympathise with the real problems they are having getting enough Doctor and nurses to fill their rotas. But the answer to that is not to downgrade hospitals, it’s to recruit more staff.
“I’m not pretending this is easy, it is clearly not. But that’s where we should be directing our energies not in downgrading a hospital they claim to celebrate.
“I accept that the NHS has to change to deal with the massive challenges it faces. The lengthy consultation document sets out the extra pressures that are building on our hospitals from an ageing population. 70% of the hospital beds are occupied by patients over the age of 65, and the number of people of that age is set to rise by 60% over the next 20 years. That extra demand on the system will push many wards over the brink unless we change the way we treat people.
“As the document rightly says too many people are seen in A&E and admitted to hospital when there are potentially other ways of looking after people in our communities to prevent a stay in hospital.
“I welcome the proposal in Hywel Dda’s document to create a ‘Community Hub’ in the new Wellness Village in Llanelli’s Delta Lakes and in Cross Hands. These hubs will be designed to provide more care closer to home.
“I also strongly support to push to use technology far more to cut down the need for travel, and to enable people to look after their own health needs, and I’m putting pressure on the Government in the Assembly to raise our game in embracing digital forms of healthcare in the NHS.
“When I spoke to him the Health Board Chief Executive was at pains to emphasise that these are just proposals and they could well change as a result of the consultation 12 week consultation exercise that will run from Thursday 19th April until Thursday 12 July. The Health board are holding a drop-in event on Tuesday May 22nd between 2pm-7pm at the Selwyn Samuel Centre where people are able to have their say.
“I’m confident that people will speak with one voice in rejecting the idea of downgrading our hospital.”
Nia Griffith MP added: “With the hospital consultation starting this week, I will be telling the Health Board in no uncertain terms that we absolutely must keep a proper general hospital at Prince Philip, with a full range of services. And, if need be, I’ll be taking the fight all the way to Welsh Government.
“Llanelli is by far the largest town in the Hywel Dda area, so I am very concerned indeed to see an option in the consultation that would downgrade services at Prince Philip. People cannot be expected to travel miles.
“I know I do not need to remind people here in Llanelli to respond to the consultation and make sure that our voices are heard loudly and clearly.”