West Wales super-hospital ‘will still keep services in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire’
Katy Jenkins, Local Democracy Reporter
“Transport and planning” are key areas for the council and health board to work together on as proposals for a west Wales ‘super hospital’ develop, Pembrokeshire councillors were told.
Pembrokeshire County Council’s social care overview and scrutiny committee heard the aim was to keep services at both Pembrokeshire’s Withybush, and Carmarthenshire’s Glangwili hospitals, when they met senior members of Hywel Dda Health Board on Thursday, September 8.
Hywel Dda University Health Board is currently consulting with the public over three potential sites for a new planned and urgent care hospital in west Wales, two in the Whitland area and one in St Clears.
The new hospital is not expected to open until 2029 and will result in the closure of emergency care services at Withybush hospital in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen’s Glangwili hospital.
The committee heard from Hywel Dda Health Board’s chairman Maria Battle, strategic development director Lee Davies and deputy chief executive Phil Kloer this week.
Mr Davies told members that the health board proposals are designed to retain as many services as possible, as close as possible to patients, by boosting integrated care centres and similar hubs and to “retain as many services as we can at Withybush and Glangwili.”
He added that overall “only true emergencies and specialist surgeries” will be provided at the new hospital – that has not yet been given the green light by Welsh Government when it comes to funding.
Ms Battle added that west Wales had been overlooked for investment for many years and “it’s our turn in the west to get this investment” with the council and health board able to “work together to get more services in Pembrokeshire and to have a new hospital that we deserve.”
The committee was told that Withybush will have a “key role in providing a huge range of really important services for the local population” both while the new hospital is developed and when it opens – with a potential deadline of 2029.
Further consultation work was due to start in January, Mr Davies added, and it was agreed that councillors would be an important part of that especially when it comes to improving transport links and infrastructure.
Ms Battle added: “We are not planning to take services away in this intervening period but we do recognise that some of the services are fragile.”
Discussions were prompted by a Notice of Motion from Cllr John Cole calling on the council to “stand with our electorate in supporting the fight to retain services essential to the health and well-being of residents.”
Professor Kloer said the “basic premise” of the motion the health board would agree with, “our efforts are all based on trying to maintain as many services as possible close to peoples’ homes.”
The committee agreed to recommend to full council that they consider transport and planning to be a “source of cooperation and collaboration with the health board.”
Chairman Cllr David Bryan said: “We need to do this as a council and the health board need to work constructively with us to see the most benefit for the people of Pembrokeshire.”
In 2018, when plans for the hospital and the downgrading of A&E departments at both Withybush Hospital and Gwangwili were made public, over 40,000 people signed a petition to save Withybush Hospital.
Protests have continued since then, with opponents of the scheme claiming extra travel to a new hospital could cost lives and have urged the health board to retain emergency services at Withybush.
In a meeting held this August, the Health 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 and the Narberth site.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.