HYWEL Dda University Health Board will consult with the public over three potential sites, two in the Whitland area and one in St Clears, for a new planned and urgent care hospital as part of its wider strategy to improve health and care in the region.
The health board submitted ambitious plans to the Welsh Government, earlier this year, which if successful, could result in the region of £1.3billion investment into health and care in west Wales. The foundation of the plan is to bring as much care as possible closer to people’s homes, with plans for multiple integrated health and care centres, designed with local communities, across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.
A new urgent and planned care hospital is part of the health board’s strategy to be able to re-provide more care in community settings, by having a sustainable hospital model fit for future generations. This would improve and increase the specialist care services that can be provided and tackle some long standing challenges, including old hospitals, problems in maintaining medical rotas over several hospitals, and staff recruitment.
In a meeting held (Thursday 04 August 2022), the Board heard that the process to date in appraising potential new hospital sites, within the zone* agreed following public consultation in 2018, had received best practice recognition from the independent body the Consultation Institute.
There was unanimous agreement that further public consultation was needed, especially in order to hear the voices of the seldom heard and staff, including those in the community and primary care services.
Based on the evidence and detail provided through the comprehensive land appraisal process to date, the Board decided to take three of five previously considered sites, through to public consultation.
Sites that will not be taken forward include one of two in St Clears (site J). This was because it had the highest risk score based on characteristics of the site and it was scored materially lower than other sites in the technical appraisal, which was made up of a majority representation from the public and used a weighted scoring process in line with what is most important to our communities.
The other site not taken forward for public consultation was the Narberth site. This was due to clinical appraisal concerns that a site further west would lead to a reduction in the number births, neonatal admissions and acute paediatric admissions reducing the critical mass for safe and sustainable services, and having a negative impact on maintaining trainee status for doctors, nurses and midwives. In relation to time critical transfers, for example neonatal intensive care and cardiac, these all go east and a hospital in Narberth would result in longer transfer times.
In summing up the meeting, Hywel Dda University Health Board Chair Maria Battle said:
“Our programme business case to the Welsh Government is seeking the greatest investment west Wales will have ever seen, and builds on the foundation of our promise to bring as much care as possible closer to people’s homes through integrated care centres in many towns across west Wales.
“We have listened to and continue to listen to the fears and voices of the public we serve and our staff who understand the frontline challenges of trying to deliver services across so many sites and spread so thinly. We promise as a Board to continue to listen and take those views into account at every stage. Recognising the fragility of our services and the risk this poses every day, we do not intend to make changes at Glangwili or Withybush hospitals before a new hospital is built. And afterwards, they will continue to provide valuable health services to our communities.”
The health board will now work closely with Hywel Dda Community Health Council to develop a consultation plan to hear people’s views on the three remaining sites, one in St Clears, and two in Whitland.
For more information on the health board’s long term strategy, and programme business case, visit the health board’s website where you can find documents, resources and Q&As.
The health board would also like to remind people they still have time to give their views about plans to develop the Fishguard Integrated Health and Well-being Centre in Pembrokeshire via the Have Your Say website, which can be found here.