Vascular services: Calls for review of north Wales changes

Glan Clwyd Hospital
Image caption The health board has centralised vascular services to a new unit at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd

The centralisation of vascular services by a health board has prompted calls for an independent review.

North Wales Community Health Council wants the inquiry to use the same methods as the one carried out over the Tawel Fan unit at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

Betsi Cadwaladr health board consulted the public on the original plans in 2013, but did not do so this time.

The health board said: "To date no serious incidents relating to the centralisation have been reported."

The council's chief executive, Geoff Ryall-Harvey, said: "What we want is an independent review, one that takes into account not just clinical elements, but also views of patients and staff."

He said this should use, as a model, some aspects of the review of Tawel Fan, which shut in 2013 amid allegations patients were mistreated.

Six years ago, people were consulted over plans to centralise vascular services to a new unit at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan and close the unit at Ysbyty Gwynedd unit at Bangor - more than 30 miles away - but it did not go ahead.

The health board recently revived the centralisation plan, but used the 2013 consultation.

The community health council said the health board should have held a new public consultation because of the level of public concern.

It is now holding a series of engagement meetings across the region itself, and will be sending the results to the health board.

Image caption The health board planned to close the unit at Ysbyty Gwynedd

Mr Ryall-Harvey said: "That's why we are having the engagement events and we will feed that into the review, we want to look at the concerns of patients and concerns of the staff and we want to know that they are taken into account as part of the review."

Vascular patient Eric Jones, from Groeslon, Gwynedd, was treated at Ysbyty Gwynedd and said the board should reverse its decision.

He said: "We had a unit at Bangor which was world class, I am seen every three months as I have an aneurism and it has to be monitored, but I am considering refusing to go to Glan Clwyd."

The Bangor unit was led by Prof Dean Williams, a world expert in limb salvage, but he resigned from his post earlier this year.

Bethan Russell Williams resigned from her role on the health board in protest over the decision to close the unit.

Image caption Bethan Russell Williams resigned from the board

She said she was fearful people were dying because centralisation was not working.

"People from Lleyn have to travel long distances and we have lost one of the most highly-respected consultants and we need to have an independent review," she said.

The health board said it now had "a stable, fit-for-purpose, modern vascular service".

A statement said: "It is widely recognised that the previous service model was too stretched and did not meet national guidelines.

"We have recruited seven vascular consultants since moving forward with the change in service, and now have a sustainable on-call rota which can care for patients in need of emergency care.

"To date, no serious incidents relating to the centralisation of vascular services have been reported.

"The level of incidents is in line with what we would expect to see where a major service change has been implemented."

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