Betsi Cadwaladr: Shake-up plan vote delay until January

Glan Clwyd hospital, Bodelwyddan
Image caption Glan Clwyd Hospital could lose intensive care neonatal services under the plans

A health board facing criticism of a proposed NHS shake-up says it will delay any decision until the new year.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) in north Wales had been due to discuss the plans on 17 December but will now look at them in January.

Proposals include the closure of two community hospitals and some minor injuries units, and moving neonatal intensive care services to the Wirral.

Plaid Cymru said the delay was due to a "tidal wave of opposition" to the plan.

'Fully informed'

The health board's chief executive, Mary Burrows, has sent a letter to politicians saying it had received "many detailed responses" to its consultation, which closed at the end of October.

She said that due to the level of interest in the proposals being tabled, letters or e-mails received up to 2 November would also be included.

She said: "By doing this we can make sure that the board makes decisions fully informed by the evidence we have, the views of the people who have responded to the consultation and any further information or alternative proposals that have been put forward."

Mr Burrows added that if proposals went ahead, changes would start in early 2013 "with the aim of finishing the changes by 2015".

Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, Llyr Gruffydd, said: "The decision by BCUHB's management to delay the decision until the new year on its centralisation and downgrading proposals is, I believe, a direct result at the tidal wave of opposition to these plans.

'Marched, lobbied'

"Whether it's the criticism of plans to close community hospitals and downgrade others or the discredited notion of moving neonatal intensive care to England, it's clear that the sustained campaign by so many different groups has taken them by surprise and forced a rethink.

"Everyone who has marched, attended a meeting, lobbied their assembly member or written to express their views can be proud that they have forced the Betsi Cadwaladr management to pause to consider their next move."

Last week Conservatives demanded to know why an independent report criticising the proposed changes was rewritten after being submitted.

The National Clinical Forum (NCF) warned BCUHB that changes were "unsustainable" in the long term.

But this was retracted after Ms Burrows intervened. She said the NCF was asked to "clarify" specific proposals in the document and to remove any "ambiguity" from the report.

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