Home » Health Board want to maintain services in Withybush until new hospital is built

Health Board want to maintain services in Withybush until new hospital is built

REPRESENTATIVES from Hywel Dda Health Board have said they want to keep as many services in Withybush as possible until the new hospital is open.

They joined a meeting of the Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday (Sept 8) which discussed a notice of motion from Cllr John Cole.

Cllr Cole had called for the Council to ‘stand with’ its electorate in supporting the retention of services in Withybush Hospital.

The Health Board is in the process of making a business case for a new hospital, to be built in Whitland or St Clears, but there has been opposition to the plans from members of the public.

During the meeting, concerns were raised about travel times to the new site and services being kept in Withybush until the new hospital is built.

Health Board representative Lee Davies said: “The proposals are designed to retain as many services as close to home as possible and retain as many services as we can at Withybush and at Glangwili.”

He said the proposed site of the new hospital was an area which was within an hours travelling time for much of the population.

It was recognised though that this would still be a challenge for some residents of the more rural communities such as Angle, St Davids and the north of the county.

Cllr David Bryan asked if there had been any talks with the Welsh Government about changes to the A40.

Lee Davies said they were in conversation with the Welsh Government and that some improvements were being made but that he didn’t anticipate any change ahead of the new hospital being opened.

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Cllr Mike James described the bus service in the north of the county as ‘abysmal’ and said transport should be a huge priority.

Maria Battle from the Health Board responded by saying that they would welcome the help, knowledge and advice from all councillors adding that if they spoke as ‘one voice’ they would have a better chance of influencing such issues.

She went on to say: “This is a £1.3billion investment to West Wales, if we speak as one voice we have a better chance of achieving this. There is a possibility to create long term jobs. It is our turn to get this investment. It will bring more services closer to home in Pembrokeshire and it is a new hospital which we all deserve.”

There were also questions about pediatric services after Cllr Steve Alderman highlighted an incident from his ward, where a young family was told to take their child to Withybush by the 111 service, only to be told they had to go to Glangwili.

Maria Battle said that although it was one incident, it was still one too many, adding they would deal with it.

Lee Davies added that there is a review of pediatrics and they are looking for the safest place for it to be sustainable in the intervening period up until the point of the new hospital.

He said: “It is a substantial programme of work and we’re looking to complete all of that by 2029.”

It is proposed that a consultation on the new hospital will begin in January and last for three months and findings from it will be presented in the summer of 2023.

Cabinet member Cllr Tessa Hodgson said: “I welcome the invitation for councillors to be involved in that process. £1.3billion is a massive investment for west Wales. Withybush is held in great esteem by the people of Pembrokeshire but the building is tired and the investment is desperately needed.”

Committee chairman, Cllr David Bryan asked if there would be a retention of services until the new hospital is built.

Executive Medical Director Phil Kloer said: “The basic premise of the motion, we would agree with. We want to maintain as many services as possible close to people’s homes.

“The new hospital will bring a lot of services that are in Glangwili and beyond will bring services back to Pembrokeshire.

“Our intention is to maintain as many services as local as possible, we don’t intend to make any changes. Withybush and Glangwili need to be working to their maximum.

“There will be medical advances, we do need to keep pace with modern thinking.”

Maria Battle added that they wanted to work ‘closely, collaboratively and creatively’ as possible with Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion County Councils when the new hospital reaches the planning stage.

Concluding, Phil Kloer added: “Withybush has got a really big role to play. We will do what we can to maintain services in that period.”

The Committee agreed with the sentiments of the motion adding that they would ask all councillors to get involved in discussions with the Health Board.