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Denbighshire Health North Wales

‘Modest’ redevelopment plans progressed for Rhyl hospital

Royal Alexandra Hopital (Pic: NHS website)

BETSI CADWALADR University Health Board’s chief executive says more ‘modest’ plans for a redeveloped Rhyl hospital still include most of the original proposals.

The health board’s board met today (Thursday) at Llandudno’s Venue Cymru to discuss progressing plans for a redeveloped Royal Alexandra Hospital in Rhyl after the original plans were thrown out.

First tabled 13 years ago, the original plans were estimated to cost around £60m, but the health board and council have been unable to secure Welsh Government funding.

According to a Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board report, the old plans for a brand-new modern hospital would now cost a staggering £102m.

The increased cost is blamed on the pandemic, inflation, and an economic downturn causing the cost-of-living crisis.

At the meeting, members were briefed on the options going forward.

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The new plans are yet to include significant detail, but the existing Royal Alexandra Hospital building accommodates around 400 staff and, as a grade-two listed building, must be retained, despite being in a poor state.

The two Glan Traeth buildings on the site are also considered to be in a reasonable state of repair and will also likely remain, accommodating outpatient services, a podiatry service, and an older people’s mental health team.

According to the report, a new clinical building on the site is planned, with reduced floor space compared to the original plans, accommodating a minor injuries and ailments Unit (MIAU), as well as some bed space.

The site would also further develop partnership working and the third sector.

Other high priority services planned for the new design will be radiology, because of its logical adjacency to minor injuries treatment, and community dental services.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is now working with Denbighshire to resubmit the more ‘modest’ proposals for capital funding support from the Welsh Government.

Speaking at the board meeting at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, Betsi’s chief executive Carol Shillabeer admitted plans for the hospital would be more modest.

“The long and short of the story is that the full business case couldn’t attract the full support of the Welsh Government,” she said.

“Even though in principle it was supported, it was significantly financially prohibited, so a few months ago we agreed to take another look at this in terms of what would be possible.”

Ms Shillabeer then said she had met with Denbighshire, Conwy, and Flintshire county councils as well as Welsh Government.

She added: “We’ve been working actively to see what is possible, and we’ve got to the stage where important, significant very rapid work has taken place to develop some proposals.

“Whilst it is more modest in terms of the cost envelope, what was stressed to us in our latest round table was most of the elements that were in the original business case feature as well in this, so I think this is a really important step forward to see if we can get this over the line, and it is an important development.”

The board heard how an important part of the investment is related to updating the fabric of a grade-two listed building.

The meeting heard how the improved facility would ease pressure at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

Members were also reminded that according to the Welsh deprivation index, the top two most deprived wards in Wales were both in Rhyl, and that the new facility was ‘really important for the community’.

The board supported the proposals. Ms Shilabeer said the health board and council were ‘pedalling quickly’ and still ‘nailing down detail’ but the plans would now be put forward to Welsh Government for consideration once finalised.

Last week Denbighshire County Council councillors slammed the scaling down of the project, with opposition councillors blaming the Welsh Government for refusing to fund North Wales projects.

A full business case for the original plans was agreed in 2021 with Denbighshire County Council again vowing to back the project in May 2023.

The original proposals for the hospital included ‘fit for purpose’ facilities, inpatient beds, services for treating minor injuries and ailments, an intravenous therapies suite, and a community well-being hub and café.