IN the largest demonstration of community protest since the Miner’s Strike in the 1980s, around six hundred people took to the streets last weekend to march against the proposed cuts to Amman Valley hospital.
The protest was led by Aneira Thomas, the first person to be born on the NHS, and Ammanford Town Silver Band, as they marched from Garnant to Glanamman to voice their concerns to Hywel Dda Health Board. Within Hywel Dda’s consultation, Our Big NHS Change, two of the three proposals that have been consulted on recommend removing the step-up/step-down beds from the Amman Valley hospital.
The consultation seeks to change the focus of provision from large hospitals to services being located closer to communities, whilst critics argue that the proposals for Amman Valley hospital would do the opposite.
Speaking after the march, Cllr Kevin Madge, Chairman of the Amman Valley Hospital Action Committee, stated “I would like to thank all the people who marched this morning in Garnant and Glanamman, with around 600 young and old marching to protest against the proposed cuts to beds at Amman Valley hospital.
“In the next 20 years the Carmarthenshire population will grow by 11% with most of the growth being older people and the number of 75 years and older is set to increase dramatically in the next twenty years. This is why we need all the beds at Amman Vallry hospital and a new Minor Injuries Unit to stop people going to A&E this would save month for Hywel Dda.”
Cllr Rob James, Carmarthenshire Labour Leader, attended the march and said “I do not think there has been a march like this in the Amman Valleys for quite some time and the organising committee have done a superb job.
“Speaking to people today, it was clear that no one believes there is a clinical reason for proposing to remove vital community beds for the hospital and frankly, it goes against the Health Board’s strategy of increasing the provision of services outside of the large hospitals.
“With around 43,000 people living in the Amman and Gwendraeth, it is scandalous that residents who have had a fall and sustained a mild injury has to travel all the way to Prince Phillip or Carmarthen to receive care, and that is without mentioning plans to move services from Carmarthen and possibly Llanelli. We need more services in the Amman Valley, not less, and that is why we are fighting fighting to retain the beds and have an MIU here also.”
The Amman Valley Hospital Action Committee have stated that they will be organising further events in September, as the Health Board look to consider the consultation responses and decide on a course of action.