Health bosses dismiss rumours over A&E axe at Bridgend's Princess of Wales Hospital
RUMOURS that a South Wales hospital's A&E department is being axed have been dismissed as untrue.
Health chiefs insist no decision has been made on the service at Bridgend's Princess of Wales Hospital.
Its status is being reviewed as part of the South Wales Programme, which aims to address problems caused by having specialist services spread across too many sites.
The review proposes having four or five regional hospitals providing a full range of services.
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Morriston, the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, and Gwent's new Specialist and Critical Care Centre would definitely become regional centres.
Key services including A&E are also provided at Princess of Wales, Prince Charles in Merthyr Tydfil and the Royal Glamorgan in Llantrisant.
Health authorities said only one or two of these could continue, although the hospital or hospitals not becoming regional centres would still provide a range of local services.
The programme is now subject to a public consultation exercise. But Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Community Health Council was told the decision to axe Bridgend A&E had already been made.
CHC member Alan Phillips said the word in the hospital was that the department was going.
"Everyone seems to 'know' it isn't going to be there," he added. "There is something going on in the background that we are not aware of.
"Rumours do not start from nothing. Some rumours start in the morning and become true by the end of the afternoon."
CHC chief officer Phil Williams said: "If I thought there was a predetermination on Bridgend I would be raising it as a major concern.
"There is a natural concern about what is going to happen but the same applies to Royal Glamorgan and Prince Charles hospitals. The same rumours are taking place there."
Mr Williams said he and CHC chairman Emrys Davies had raised the matter with ABM University Health Board chief executive Paul Roberts.
He added: "We have told him they have to make every effort so that the people of Bridgend understand we are talking about what-ifs.
"There are no firm proposals. They will not appear until after the end of the engagement process."
Chairman Mr Davies said ABM had to take extra care that, if the decision was to move A&E away from Bridgend, the board could not be accused of predetermination.
"They took that on board," he said. "They said the situation was difficult and they were briefing staff constantly, and they understood what they were saying because they had the same concerns themselves."
An ABM spokeswoman said: "We can once more give assurances that no decision has been made about the future role of A&E Department at the Princess of Wales Hospital."
She said ABM and other health boards were sharing initial ideas about the possible future configuration of some services. Public feedback from the engagement would help shape firm proposals next year.
"If the Princess of Wales Hospital does not become a regional centre it would still continue to deal with most of the types of cases which currently use A&E, through a minor injury service," she said.
"Only the sickest and most seriously injured patients would need to go to a nearby regional centre."