By Richard Evans
BED spaces at Rhyl’s Royal Alexandra Hospital should be reinstated to help ease bed blocking at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, says a concerned councillor.
At a Denbighshire County Council meeting this week, Cllr Brian Jones tabled a motion, proposing that the authority takes advice from a group known as the ‘Alex Angels’.
The Alex Angels is a small group of retired medical professionals who originally trained at the Royal Alexander Hospital.
Cllr Jones says the Alex Angels have decades of experience working within the health service in North Wales and believes they can help the current situation.
The Rhyl councillor wants the authority to pressure Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to conduct a feasibility study, looking at restoring bed spaces at the Rhyl hospital.
The motion was backed by an online petition with over 700 signatures, calling for bed spaces to be reinstated at the hospital on Marine Drive.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Jones said: “This motion has been inspired by the Alex Angels.
“This group, they understand the North Wales Health Authority, Betsi, and they have got points of view that, I believe, can help and assist and make it (the situation) better.”
Cllr Jones added: “I’ve spoken to hundreds of people across Rhyl and beyond about this subject, about reinstating bed capacity at the Royal Alexander Hospital, and you can’t find anyone who will speak against it (the idea).
“In Glan Clwyd Hospital, there is a ward there – not the official name – known as the frail ward, and on average there are around 30 patients on this ward, and by nature of the word frail, it is just people who are frail, elderly people, so they are not in extensive need of medical attention.
“There is nowhere to move them on to. So if we are talking about reinstating bed capacity at the Alexander Hospital – you are talking about 30 beds that are freed up at Glan Clwyd.”
But Cllr Elen Heaton, Denbighshire’s lead member for health and social care, said bed capacity had been removed from the Royal Alexander Hospital for a reason. “In-patient beds have been removed from the Royal Alexander Hospital due to fire safety concerns, although there are a range of out-patient services that continue to be delivered from the site,” she said.
“Whilst I acknowledge the importance of a development of some sort at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, focusing solely on in-patients’ beds alone will not adequately meet the health and social care needs of our community in Denbighshire, and more specifically, it won’t address the bed blocking pressures of which you are referring to.
“Reasons behind bed blocking and delayed transfers of care are quite complex and multi-faceted as most of you will be aware…Most people are actually waiting for community-based health and social care services; therefore, increasing bed capacity alone will not be able to address this issue.
“It is also important we consider the preference of the individual, and what I mean by that is most people if not all would rather be cared or supported in their own homes.”
Cllr Heaton added that adding beds at the Royal Alex wouldn’t be conducive to solving the problem and instead raised the redevelopment of the hospital as something to work towards – a plan known as the North Denbighshire Community Hospital project, which is yet to secure Welsh Government funding.
Whilst it was agreed the council would engage with the Alex Angels, the feasibility study looking into reinstating beds at the Royal Alexander was ruled out.
Instead, the motion was amended, and councillors pledged their support to the full business case for the redevelopment of the Royal Alexander Hospital, a project that has been awaiting a decision from Welsh Government for years.
But Cllr Brian Jones was unhappy with the decision and questioned if the project would ever come to fruition.