D-Day looms for public in the fight to save A&E
LLANELLI residents will be holding their breath after Hywel Dda Health Board announced it would reveal the future of Prince Philip Hospital next week.
The board announced yesterday it had called an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday in Carmarthen for members to consider the recommendations put forward following the Your Health Your Future consultation which ended in October.
The board had published two proposed options for a shake-up of health services, both of which would see Llanelli's accident and emergency department replaced with a nurse-staffed local accident centre.
Since the plans first emerged just over a year ago, residents and community leaders have been joined by GPs and doctors at PPH to oppose them — with calls for full A&E services to be restored at the hospital, backed by a 24,000-name petition.
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Now health campaigners have issued a final chilling warning to board members, saying they will have "blood on their hands" if the plans result in any deaths.
Tony Flatley, of the Committee for the Improvement of Hospital Services, said: "I'm personally not optimistic, but whatever they come out with, if we're not satisfied we will continue fighting.
"We will never stop fighting to get what Llanelli deserves.
"We certainly won't win anything unless they come out with a full A&E with a consultant. We deserve it."
And Councillor John Jenkins, who has been vocal in opposition to the proposals, said: "They will have blood on their hands if these plans result in deaths.
"If a member of my family dies in an ambulance on the way to Glangwili they will not hear the end of it, and I think there are 80,000 people in Llanelli that feel the same way."
Along with other evidence, board members have been considering the report Balancing Opinions, put together by social research company Opinion Research Services, in December, based on feedback to the consultation.
And yesterday the report was published online, revealing that across the region there had been "overwhelming support" in favour of the option to maintain emergency services at Haverfordwest, Aberystwyth and Carmarthen — but only provide Llanelli with an emergency medical admission unit and nurse-led local accident centre.
But the report added: "Almost everyone who took part in the consultation supports this approach, though there is important vociferous local opposition to the proposed nurse-led minor injuries service at Prince Philip, and some want full A&E restored there."
In a statement released yesterday, board chief executive Trevor Purt said: "We have undertaken extensive and lengthy engagement during the past two years.
"We would like to remind members of the public that any changes approved by the board will demonstrate improved outcomes for our patients, be safe and sustainable. We will not compromise on patient care."
Chairman Chris Martin added: "We are extremely grateful that so many people took the time and trouble to let us know their views.
"There has been a considerable amount of debate and we know that many of our staff, stakeholders and patients are eagerly awaiting both the results of consultation and final decisions on any changes."