Betsi Cadwaladr proposals: Flint and Blaenau Ffestiniog hospitals may shut

  • 19 July 2012
  • From the section Wales

Two community hospitals could close and minor injury accident departments may shut at others under a major health service shake-up in north Wales.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has met to discuss the changes, some of which will be put out to consultation.

Among the areas under scrutiny are older people's mental health services, neonatal intensive care and vascular and major arterial surgery.

The board is the first in Wales to outline plans for balancing the books.

It predicts a gap of £64.6m, the second highest in Wales.

Meanwhile, plans for 10 so-called hospital hubs were supported, with the aim of providing more services in the community.

The proposals were discussed by the health board on Thursday.

As part of the plan:

  • Flint and Blaenau Ffestiniog hospitals may close, along with a number of minor injuries units
  • Neo-natal intensive care could move over the border to England
  • Most maternity and paediatric services remain will unchanged
  • Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan will continue to offer emergency surgery

But maternity and paediatric services will remain largely unchanged after the plans proved controversial when suggested by BCUHB.

Community services will also be looked at by the consultation process.

It said its proposed changes were designed to improve patient care.

This follows an extended review process, led by clinicians, with important contributions from staff, the public and colleagues from partner agencies.

BCUHB said the feedback and views through this process helped to shape the proposals that had been put forward.

Health board chief executive Mary Burrows said: "The role of our senior clinicians in leading this process and the involvement of stakeholders has been crucial.

"The work has been carried out to see how we can improve the quality and standard of care we provide as well as improving the health of the population.

"The health board is clear that we cannot afford to stand still. The status quo is not an option."

Speaking before the meeting at St Asaph, Christine Evans, chair of patient watchdog Betsi Cadwaladr Community Health Council, said: "The local communities will be very upset."

But she added that the minor injuries units were not well used and there were not enough staff to sit across all services.

"It has got to be decided the best way for the most number of people," she told BBC Radio Wales.

Politicians have expressed concerns about the plans.

In 2009 a series of reviews began across north Wales looking at all health services, and it has been feared for some time that community hospitals could close as a result.

It has now emerged that Blaenau Ffestiniog and Flint community hospitals have been earmarked for possible closure.

But the buildings would be refurbished, according to the report, "to provide enhanced community services… and a base for community staff".

Bed care would be would be transferred to neighbouring hospitals.

The board also proposes a replacement of services currently provided from Llangollen Community Hospital, which would be developed into an extended primary care resource centre with bed care at Chirk.

Minor injury units would close at a number of locations, including Flint, Mold, Colwyn Bay and Ruthin

'Not sustainable'

A report says that their closure will help to strengthen the provision at 10 hospital hubs across the region which will be the focal point for communities.

They include the three main hospitals, Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor, Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan and Wrexham Maelor, but also smaller ones like Dolgellau Community Hospital, Llandudno and Deeside hospitals.

One idea first raised was to move neo-natal care from Wrexham to Glan Clwyd.

However, it seems the services will remain across the three main hospital sites although the report says the current system is not sustainable.

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