Save Neath Port Talbot Hospital's acute services, demands MP
FORMER Welsh Secretary Peter Hain is to demand action to stop Neath Port Talbot Hospital's emergency medical service from being axed.
The Neath MP said he was extremely disturbed to be told that acute medical cases would no longer be treated there from September because of problems recruiting doctors.
"It's an excellent local hospital," he said. "It's a new hospital that only opened 10 years ago and people value it deeply.
"When the hospital moved from the Penrhiwtyn site in Neath we were given a cast iron guarantee from the then government that the service would not be diminished and I'm determined to ensure that remains the case.
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Mr Hain said he would write immediately to Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board chief executive Paul Roberts to complain and to urge the board to "start recruiting heavily".
"I cannot believe this recruitment problem is insoluble," said Mr Hain.
ABM said the Wales Deanery, responsible for postgraduate doctor training, had decided to move CT2 doctors from Neath Port Talbot to "more suitable training environments" from August.
These are the most senior doctors responsible for the care of acutely unwell medical patients.
"Without these doctors the safety and care of acute patients is compromised to the degree that it is not safe for these patients to stay in hospital," said a spokeswoman.
"The health board moved swiftly to identify alternative ways to staff these medical posts to provide both a short and full-term replacement in sufficient quality and number.
"We undertook an international recruitment campaign and also developed a new role to appoint academic research doctors to encourage more applicants.
"Unfortunately, despite these efforts, we have not been able to appoint enough doctors needed for a safe service."
But Mr Hain said he was not swayed, arguing that if the doctors could not be found in the UK the trust should look further afield.
Aberavon councillor Tony Taylor, whose ward includes the hospital site at Baglan Moors, said he would be asking Neath Port Talbot Council chief executive Steve Phillips what action the authority could take.
Mr Taylor said the decision on acute medical care at Neath Port Talbot meant it was being downgraded to a cottage hospital.
"We want medical emergencies seen here, we want full A&E and we want a fully functioning hospital," he said.
"We have a population of more than 50,000. We have a major industry right on our doorstep, yet they are closing everything and forcing patients to go east and west.
"It's the only hospital in the region that has room to expand and they're downgrading it. Ambulances will be going past it to take people to hospital, which is ridiculous."