Wales

Betsi Cadwaladr NHS change: Opponents' Llandudno march

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Media captionCampaigners say they are considering launching a judicial review against the changes

Hundreds of campaigners opposing a raft of changes to hospital care in north Wales have taken to the streets.

More than 300 people joined the demonstrations in Llandudno.

It follows a decision by the area community health council (CHC) not to refer Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board plans to the Welsh government.

The health board says it has made "very hard" decisions but has a "responsibility to provide safe and sustainable" care.

Serious neonatal baby care will move to England, and a number of community hospitals will close.

Llandudno town councillor Carol Marubbi, vice-chair of the local hospital action group, said:"We are not going away. We will continue fighting until we are listened to. Health services are a catastrophe at the moment."

One member of the CHC has announced he is resigning in protest at the moves.

Gwynedd councillor Huw Edwards said he had lost faith in the Betsi Cadwaladr CHC, which acts as a patient watchdog.

"I believe that the health council has behaved contrary to public opinion and also to their own plans," he said.

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Media captionJonathan Montgomery, professor of healthcare law, on the NHS changes

"There are no details at all about provision in the community that the board refers to and that is totally unfair to the areas that will lose their local hospitals.

"The decision to move the specialist neonatal unit from Glan Clwyd is equally despicable."

Under proposals agreed by the health board, the most serious cases of intensive baby care will move from Glan Clwyd hospital at Bodelwyddan in Denbighshire to Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Merseyside.

Community hospitals in Flint, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Llangollen and Prestatyn would close, with minor injury units also shutting at Llangollen, Chirk, Flint, Ruthin and Colwyn Bay.

On Thursday, the CHC said it would not be referring the majority of the proposals to the Health Minister Lesley Griffith.

However, campaigners have vowed to fight on against the planned changes.

"Emotions are running very high. People are very angry and they are also frightened. Frightened that our health service here in north Wales just can't cope and yet we are being asked to accept even more cuts," said Ms Marubbi.

She remains increasingly concerned about the future of the town's hospital even though it has been left relatively unscathed in the reorganisation plans.

But changes to the way junior doctors are now trained across Britain mean the Llandudno unit has been hit in other ways.

Breast care

The hospital can no longer provide night cover for breast surgery patients, which means that any patient needing treatment that may require an overnight stay must be admitted to another hospital, such as Glan Clwyd.

Earlier in the week Conwy council voiced its opposition to the current hospital plans by passing a motion of no confidence in the health board.

Linda Groom, chair of the Llandudno action group, added: "I think the health board has underestimated how much anger there is out there and we're hoping a mass protest will bring this home to them."

The health board said: " Understandably, the prospect of change creates uncertainty for staff and service users. Some services, such as minor injuries, already suffer periodic disruption due to staffing difficulties.

"There is a risk that other services could become more difficult to operate safely as staff start to look at alternative roles and opportunities."

It also said that it recognised that there were strong views over the reorganisation plans.

"These have been very hard decisions for the board to make, but we have a responsibility to provide safe and sustainable healthcare services for the people we serve and this is why change is needed," said the spokesperson.

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