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Health board special advisor clarifies ‘150 meetings’ on hospital wards relocation

St Woolos Hospital on Stow Hill, Newport (Pic: Google Street View)

A SPECIAL advisor to a health board was joking when he claimed 150 meetings had been held over transferring staff to another hospital less than half a mile away. 

The Aneurin Bevan Health University Health Board agreed at its public meeting on Wednesday, January 24 it would relocate two community rehabilitation wards from St Woolos Hospital in Newport to the Royal Gwent. 

The hospitals are about 10 minutes walk from each other and at the meeting the board’s chief operating officer Leanne Watkins stated weekly meetings had been held with staff to discuss the changes. 

That prompted the board’s special advisor Phil Robson to raise concern at the amount of consultation undertaken with staff over what he called a “relatively minor change”. 

Mr Robson, who was also vice chairman of the health board from 2016 to 2018, said during the formal meeting: “Some people might shoot me down for saying this, but it’s very easy to sit here and say, well, you know, you’ve had 150 meetings with people just to do a small change. 

“But of course, these 150 meetings take an awful lot of capacity, an awful lot of time out of the organisation and I think we need to be careful going forward, looking at the amount of change we have to do, we can’t invest this amount of effort in something every single thing that we do and some of those things are going to be much bigger than this.” 

Phil Robson is a special advisor to the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (Pic: Aneurin Bevan University Health Board)

Following the meeting the health board has said Mr Robson has clarified he didn’t mean to say it had actually held 150 meetings, but had given the figure as illustrative. 

The board said it couldn’t say exactly how many meetings it held but said the figure was far fewer than 150. 

Mr Robson served as a social services director, and executive director, of Powys County Council before retiring in 2008 and since then has undertaken a number of appointments on behalf of the Welsh Government including an inquiry into social services departments.