'Focus on seriously ill patients', health chiefs
HEALTH chiefs in South West Wales want hospitals to focus purely on seriously ill patients as they kick-start a major consultation into improving services.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU), like others across Wales, has to provide a plan to the Welsh Government by the end of October this year about how it can change and improve its services.
It has been running workshops focusing on how future ABMU NHS services could look.
Yesterday ABMU chief executive Paul Roberts said: "The public have tended to think 'if I get ill I will go to a hospital', we have got to develop a new relationship with citizens.
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"Hospitals should be for the very sick, people who are at risk of serious illness.
"Most of the care we should be developing for people that have ill health should be provided outside of hospitals.
"People talk about public services and they talk about hospitals and schools.
"Our job is to get across the NHS is about a lot more than hospitals.
"For the vast majority of people what we need to be doing is supporting people outside of hospitals."
Plastic surgeon and ABMU director of clinical strategy Hamish Laing confirmed there were no plans to close its four major hospitals including Morriston Hospital, Singleton Hospital, Neath Port Talbot Hospital or the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.
Mr Laing said: "Our experience is that patients are very happy to travel a bit further if they are aware they are doing it for a reason to get expert care. There is always a trade off about providing things locally and having to travel a bit further.
"If you get badly burned in the Isle of Wight you would come to Swansea because we are the leading burns centre in the UK.
"At this point we are looking at what are the changes and opportunities to do things differently.
"We haven't, at this stage, come to any conclusions about what this means for individual services."
ABMU has produced a 15-page booklet and smaller summary leaflet outlining why the NHS needs to change locally which will be delivered to homes across the area throughout this month.
Key priorities outlined in the leaflet include doing more to support people to live healthier lifestyles, spending more of the health board budget on GP and community services and making better use of staff.
It states: "If we carry on delivering services like we do now, we won't be able to meet these challenges and the standard of the NHS care will deteriorate.
"We don't think that is acceptable."
ABMU has also been working with Swansea University on an internet forum called YouTellUs to allow staff and citizens to share their views about the health board's proposals.
David Ford, director of Health Informatics at Swansea University, said: "This is a bold step by the Health Board and a fantastic opportunity for people to help influence the design of the local services in the NHS.
"This is a long term collaboration, aimed at making sure that people living in the ABMU area have their views heard.
"We are delighted to have been asked to help the board with this work."
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