Campaigners claim Health Board’s statement on Withybush Hospital is ‘meaningless and irrelevant’

Hywel Dda Health Board’s recent statement insisting that there will be no closure of Withybush Hospital is meaningless and irrelevant, say Save Withybush Campaigners.

The petition which has recently topped 10,000 signatures and will now go to the Senedd petitions committee was set up by the Save Withybush Campaign with the specific aim of saving and retaining the A&E at Withybush, demanding that: Withybush General Hospital must retain 24 hour, 7 days a week, Consultant Led urgent care.

Campaigners say that The Health Board’s assurance that they will not close the hospital bears no relevance to the issues at hand. “Our campaign is against the downgrading of the hospital and the closure of our A&E.

“In 2014 they removed the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and Consultant led maternity, leaving us with only a midwife led unit. This has already created a very unsafe maternity situation as any remotely risky pregnancies & births, plus emergencies have to be dealt with in
Glangwili. In 2020 they removed Emergency Paediatrics to Glangwili.
These moves are causing undue stress, prolonged travel times and
financial burdens for families in Pembrokeshire. Nearly everyone in
Pembrokeshire has a horror story about this. The ambulance service is
already at breaking point so our argument is that the downgrading and
closure of the A&E at Withybush cannot and will not ever be safe.”

In the recent statement from Hwyel Dda Mr Davies said: “Our ambition is to move from a service that treats illness to one that keeps people well, prevents ill-health or worsening of ill health, and provides any help you need early on.”

Campaigners say that there is absolutely no way to mitigate against serious injury or sudden life threatening illness and say this statement is meaningless when you hold it against the Health Boards plans to close the A&E. Pembrokeshire is home to industrial hot spots such as the Valero Oil and Gas refinery, we also have a huge population boost during the holiday tourism seasons. The point is, that without a fully functioning A&E at Withybush thousands of lives will be put at risk.

The Health Board’s recent Programme Business Case which is available to view on Hywel Dda’s website outlines several options which are under consideration for the future planned infrastructure and hospital footprint if a new build hospital near St Clears goes ahead.

The options listed range from ‘Minor’ though to ‘Maximum’ with ‘likely’ potential redevelopment scenarios for the Withybush site.

Page 206 of the plan titled: ‘Opportunities and Observations’ clearly shows a potential redevelopment plan for Withybush where the A&E would be completely demolished while the main hospital footprint would be vastly reduced in size.

Several of the options involve new build scenarios which describe leaving only [quote] “a functional requirement at Withybush which includes a minor injuries unit with GP out of hours service and satellite imaging, four outpatient clusters and 16 renal treatment chairs. includes two 24-bed inpatient wards.”

Other key statements contained within the Business plan include: “As part of a wider site redevelopment strategy there may be an opportunity to demolish or re-develop some of the peripheral buildings around the site.” and “With a reduction in the building footprint and less car-parking required there is the potential to dispose of circa 6-7 acres in the future.”

Campaigners say this clearly demonstrates the Health Board’s intention not just to downgrade the hospital and to remove its A&E but to sell off the remaining land as well.

Adding: “These plans are not only unsafe but have been based on an out of date consultation which was worded in such a way that people were not even given the opportunity to object to the proposed closures or to the new build hospital. Under the Future Generations Act and the Social Services and Wellbeing act Welsh Government and the health Boards have legislative obligations to engage in co production with residents when planning any changes to services, this means they have to design services in partnership with all cross sections of the community which will be affected. They have abjectly failed in their responsibility to do this.

Pic. Wiki Commons. Attribution. ceridwen / Withybush Hospital, Haverfordwest

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