Prince Philip Hospital's A&E closure brews up political storm
NEWS of the plug being pulled on life-saving A&E services at Llanelli's Prince Philip Hospital has caused a political storm.
Last night, Health Minister Mark Drakeford announced that Prince Philip Hospital's A&E will be closed and replaced with a nurse-led and GP supported unit.
This has caused bitter disagreements between Assembly Members for Mid and West Wales and uproar from the public in Llanelli.
After almost two years of deliberation, this news was confirmed yesterday in a statement from Health Minister Mark Drakeford.
Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas called the news "hugely concerning" and "huge blow" for the people of Llanelli.
Mr Thomas added that it would be a great disappointment to the town and that Plaid Cymru would continue the case to retain doctor-led services at the hospital.
This health service shake-up for Llanelli will mean that emergency services are provided not by a doctor-led team, or, as was once suggested, a nurse-led team.
It will instead be a nurse-led team supported by GPs.
But this change has been dubbed by critics as a downgrade of services.
Labour AM Keith Davies has hit back at those calling the change a "downgrade".
Mr Davies said: "The recommendations of the panel means that we will continue to have a service that matches as closely as it can the service we have now."
He added the service would include the addition of an emergency admissions unit that it is claimed will allow fast access to specialist medical teams without going through the A&E system.
"Plaid have everything to gain from continuing to scare people into believing we're losing everything," Mr Davies said. "That is not the case.
"This statement is about securing Prince Philip Hospital — to upskill staff to provide local, safe services for the people of Llanelli and beyond."
Hywel Dda Community Health Council's chairman Tony Wales said he was "quite pleased with the outcome".
Mr Wales said: "We couldn't rely purely on a nurse- led/nurse-delivered service. What we are particularly pleased about is that it is going to be a continued process and that we are at the heart of that process. We will continue to scrutinise and make sure that it is delivered well for the people of Llanelli and the surrounding areas."
In his statement to the Senedd yesterday, Mr Drakeford said: "At Prince Philip Hospital, in 2011-12 its emergency department saw 33,000 patients, of which 6,500 were major cases. 422 of these needed to be transferred to another hospital.
"The remaining 80 per cent of patients were treated at the hospital and the decision I have made today means that this position will be no different in the future."
The scrutiny panel's report suggests this Emergency Nurse Practitioner-led and GP-supported (ENP+GP) model would offer the following:
Prince Philip Hospital would continue to treat most of the patients that go to there at present.
The ENP+GP unit would deal with less serious illnesses and injuries, supported by medical doctors and anaesthetists if patients with more serious conditions arrived unexpectedly.
Patients sent to PPH by their GPs as emergency admissions would be seen directly by specialist medical teams, stopping them having to go through A&E and could see them starting their treatment sooner.
Patients needing care by out of hours GPs would be seen in the same unit.