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Plans to out-source services announced

Hywel-Dda-Health-BoardHYWEL Dda Health Board announced this week possible plans to out-source out of hours GP and triage services to private company Primecare, who already provide the same service in Carmarthenshire.
It has been reported that there was a risk that should the proposal go ahead then there was the potential for twelve part-time contracts to be adversely affected, possibly resulting in job cuts.
However, speaking to The Herald, a spokesperson for the Hywel Dda Health Board said that this was not the case, and that they were ‘still looking at options and had no idea how many people, if any, it would affect at this time’, should it go ahead.
A spokesperson for the Health Board said: “Currently there are two separate GP out of hours services provided in Hywel Dda. Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion’s call handling and triage service is provided in-house and Carmarthenshire’s by the private sector. Both services provide NHS face-to-face treatment centres and home visits consultations. The Health Board is exploring the possible benefits of developing a three counties GP out of hours call handling and triage service for Hywel Dda as we aim to provide a more consistent and efficient service for all our patients”.
When asked about the potential for a decrease in efficiency, as well as the fear of greater waiting times, the spokesperson continued: “We strongly believe this approach will offer improved patient choice and speed up home visits that could result in a reduction of calls to 999 and admission to hospital.
‘’The Board has a duty to consult with, and support, any staff affected by the proposed change and will do so when we are confident that this change will improve out of hours access for our patients. We would also like to take this opportunity to reassure the public that the Board will work with our clinicians to ensure that this change will improve the service provided before any decision is made.”
Mid and West Wales AM, Joyce Watson issued this statement to The Herald: “While I support Hywel Dda’s intention to speed up home visits and reduce unnecessary hospital admissions, in exploring options for GP out of hours services, patient care must remain the absolute priority.
‘’The potential impact on staff must also be seriously considered. I will be seeking meetings with Board representatives to discuss these proposals in greater detail.”
Paul Davis, AM member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, had this to say: “It’s right to consider how out of hours services can be delivered more effectively to meet patient demand and avoid putting patients through the sometimes distressing experience of an unnecessary visit to A&E. I welcome the Health Board’s commitment to engage positively with staff and patients and I hope that health bosses will listen to their views and act accordingly.”
Plaid Cymru AM, Simon Thomas, said: “Plaid Cymru has tabled a question to the Health Minister on this issue because of local concerns.
‘’More people could end up going to A&E if the service is not up to scratch. The danger is that private firms may cut costs by not employing staff as well trained as those currently serving local people.
‘’The recent Plaid Cymru brokered budget deal with the Welsh government means that Hywel Dda and the local council could bid for up to £8m from the Intermediate Care Fund to provide alternatives to people going to hospital and to encourage independent living.”
Primecare, founded in 1997, claim that they lead the way in the development of regular quality reporting for commissioning organisations, and are the first independent health care provider to have developed ‘this unique reporting system which allows regular, transparent reporting of both national and locally agreed quality indicators’.