Towns will 'revolt' if acute care services at Neath and Port Talbot Hospital are removed
THE people of Neath and Port Talbot will "revolt" if a major service is cut at their hospital.
Neath MP Peter Hain warned he would take the fight to save the acute medical service at the Baglan Moors site to the highest level if it was withdrawn.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board members were today expected to approve changes from September, caused by a shortage of doctors.
Mr Hain has already accused ABM of not doing enough to recruit sufficient medics to keep the service running safely.
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The board has now detailed the extent of its search for doctors.
Mr Hain said he had spoken to ABM chairman Win Griffiths and accepted genuine efforts had been made to recruit them. But he had also made it clear that feelings in the community were running high about the service withdrawal.
"People were promised a hospital that would provide acute facilities with A&E provision. They are now being denied that and it's just not good enough," he added.
Senior medics with ABM have ruled it would be unsafe to continue with Neath Port Talbot Hospital's acute medical service because of a shortage of doctors.
The proposed changes follow a decision by the Wales Deanery, responsible for postgraduate doctor training, to move CT2 doctors — which run the acute medical service — elsewhere.
Despite Mr Hain's criticisms, ABM has said it did all it could to recruit suitably qualified doctors.
A spokeswoman explained: "An attempt to find locum doctors did not provide the answer, as available locum doctors were already being used to fill existing gaps in medical posts and they can't be relied upon to provide the continuity and stability needed to deliver such a service.
"In the autumn of 2011 an international recruitment visit was made to Dubai. Dubai was chosen because it has a proven track record, as a number of English trusts have successfully recruited doctors from Dubai. While this resulted in attracting four doctors to work in Neath Port Talbot Hospital, only one proved to be experienced enough to work safely in the acute medical rota."
As well as this, she said, the board developed opportunities for academic research doctors to provide an out-of-hours, on call service commitment to Neath Port Talbot Hospital.
"While this was not ideal in terms of day cover, it would have helped with the 24/7 rota and was considered acceptable as a short term measure," she added. "Unfortunately, while it attracted some interest from doctors, not enough came forward."
However, Mr Hain is not backing down. He insists ABM must fill the posts and continue the service at Neath Port Talbot.
"There is no compromise on this. They cannot leave those doctor posts empty. They have got to be filled," he added.
"We will not be brushed off with excuses — it's got to happen."
Asked what his next step would be if the ABM board confirms the changes to acute medical services, he said: "I will take it further. I will take it up with the government.
"I think there will be a revolt in Neath Port Talbot about it. It just isn't acceptable."