Hospital services shake-up supported by Cwm Taf CHC

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Media captionThe changes will see services moved from Royal Glamorgan Hospital

Controversial plans to centralise hospital services in south Wales are expected to go ahead after getting support from a patients' watchdog.

Cwm Taf Community Health Council (CHC) said it would not ask Health Minister Mark Drakeford to review the proposals to shift services from some hospitals.

It had previously opposed the shake-up which would affect services at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, Llantrisant.

The plans include moving specialist A&E services from the hospital.

The South Wales Programme (SWP) is made up of the five health boards - Abertawe Bro Morgannwg, Cwm Taf, Cardiff and Vale, Aneurin Bevan and Powys.

They have been working with the Welsh Ambulance Service to create sustainable hospital services in their respective areas.

Under the plans, changes would be made to the way some specialist hospital care is delivered including centralising high level emergency care.

Specialist care for mothers, newborn babies and children would also be available at fewer hospitals.

It was set up following concerns services were spread too thinly across the region.

However, some opponents have warned patients could face greater risks if they have to travel further for treatment.

Supporters of the plan claim:

  • Changes are essential to make sure that patients get the best care, and say some units do not meet UK-wide professional standards
  • If services are spread too thinly, doctors do not get to see enough patients to keep their skills up to scratch and problems can arise in attracting and providing adequate training to junior doctors
  • Further, those who support change argue that as medicine gets more advanced, hospitals have no option but to specialise
  • The model of care - developed in the 1950s - is outdated
  • Changes would tackle other challenges, such as an ageing population and financial pressures

But some respondents, including some assembly members, MPs and councillors, opposed the plan:

  • Arguing it would be unnecessary if the Welsh government recruited extra doctors
  • Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said he was "convinced that these proposals would not be necessary given adequate expenditure by the Welsh government"
  • In total, 3.3% of respondents argued to maintain the status quo
  • Several professional medical bodies claim the proposed changes do not go far enough to tackle problems in the NHS

Image copyright Chris Hodcroft
Image caption Some critics warn patients could face greater risks if they have to travel further

Dr Paul Worthington, chief officer of Cwm Taf CHC, said the decision had not been easy but members agreed the best way forward for services across south Wales was through collaboration.

Allison Williams, chief executive at Cwm Taf University Health Board, welcomed the decision and said the hard work would now begin on redesigning services that were "fit for the future".

A Welsh government spokesperson said now Cwm Taf was not seeking a review, it could start implementing the changes.

"The health minister is very grateful to Cwm Taf Community Health Council for its mature and considered response and will consider carefully and promptly the case for investment in primary and community care services in the Cwm Taf region," the spokesperson added.

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