Hywel Dda Health Board agrees hospital and care shake-up

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Media captionManagers insist the proposals will lead to better care for patients

Health managers have decided to press ahead with controversial plans for big changes in the way NHS care is delivered across mid and west Wales.

Hywel Dda Health Board has approved plans to close minor injury units and centralise other services affecting patients in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

Managers insist the proposals will lead to better care for patients.

A patient watchdog says it is appalled and public opinion has been ignored.

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Media captionLiz Buckland, whose son Seth was born prematurely, campaigned against the closure of the Withybush neonatal baby unit

There has been widespread public opposition since the plans were announced over a year ago.

A special meeting of the health board ratified the proposals on Tuesday morning, including the centralising of a number of specialist services.

The special care baby unit at Withybush Hospital, Haverfordwest, will close, with care for newborn babies to be centralised at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.

Mynydd Mawr Community Hospital in Tumble will shut along with minor injury units at Tenby and South Pembrokeshire hospitals.

However, an orthopaedic centre of excellence will be created at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli which will also house services transferred from Mynydd Mawr.

Patient watchdog Hywel Dda Community Health Council (HDCHC) said the local health board (LHB) had "largely ignored" concerns raised by people and stakeholders.

More than 5,000 people completed a questionnaire giving their views.

HDCHC chair Tony Wales said he was appalled by the recommendations, calling the process "little more than a charade".

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Media captionBBC Wales political editor Betsan Powys on the political reaction to the changes

"I feel very concerned that a lot of the consultation results have been completely ignored," he said.

He said the executive committee of the health council could refer the health board's plans to the health minister.

Mr Wales added: "I would be very surprised if it's not referred."

The health board insists that none of the changes will take place until it is safe and appropriate to do so.

It has pledged a £40m investment for new community health centres to provide a range of services including diagnostic tests, outpatient appointments and physiotherapy.

These will be located in Aberaeron, Cardigan, Carmarthen, Cross Hands, Crymych and Whitland.

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