South West Wales

Pembrokeshire hospitals injury unit closures are defended

Health officials in Pembrokeshire have defended plans to temporarily close two minor injury units to boost staffing levels at the nearby general hospital.

They say nurses from Tenby and South Pembrokeshire hospitals are needed to keep the accident and emergency unit at Withybush in Haverfordwest going.

Some residents attending a public meeting said centralising services in Haverfordwest would be less convenient.

Hywel Dda health board said viability of the Withybush unit was at stake.

The minor injury units are due to close on a temporary basis on 3 January, although local AM Angela Burns has told BBC Wales she had "deep concerns" they would never reopen again.

Around a hundred people attended a public meeting at in the village of New Hedges on Monday where board officials explained the plans.

Dr Rob Griffiths, representing the Hywel Dda health board, said accident and emergency staffing at the county's general hospital had to be prioritised, as it had long-term problems recruiting consultants and middle grade doctors for the unit.

He said: "If we don't take measures to reorganise our staff and consolidate the service, the viability of the accident and emergency unit at Withybush is in jeopardy."

But Mansel Thomas, chairman of the South East Pembrokeshire Community Health Network, said there was particular concern that older people would have to travel further and wait longer for treatment if the local injury units closed.

Image caption Concerned residents packed a public meeting to discuss the plans

"There are lots of retirees, lots of retirement homes and lots of care homes that make use of that facility regularly," he said.

Alan Wales, from the region's community health council watchdog, said tourists should also be taken into account.

"You've got a lot of holidaymakers who are on the beach and children over on the rocks," he said.

"You actually need a minor injuries service - (it's) absolutely vital and you do slightly worry what effect that might have on the tourist trade."

Hywel Dda health board has previously said that it would be talking to GPs about the provision of minor injury services during the period.

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