'While travelling further, people will get a stronger service'- health board

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Executive director of strategic development and operational planning Lee Davies said people need to look at the wider picture with the hospital plans
Executive director of strategic development and operational planning Lee Davies said people need to look at the wider picture with the hospital plans

“WHILE travelling further, people will get a stronger service when they get there.”

That’s one of the key messages a senior member of Hywel Dda put across as the health board ploughs on with plans to build a new hospital in west Wales.

Last week Western Telegraph reported the locations where Hywel Dda is planning to build a new hospital, with five possible sites selected – one in Narberth, two in Whitland and two in St Clears.

Today, June 27, we spoke to Lee Davies, executive director of strategic development and operational planning, and Andrew Carruthers, director of operations.

They went into detail about the intentions of Hywel Dda wanting to make such a monumental change to the health service in west Wales.

Mr Davies said potential sites selected provide access to the hospital within 60 minutes for the vast majority – this was in response to the Western Telegraph revealing St Davids would be outside the ‘golden hour’ to get to hospital if one of the five sites was selected.

North Pembrokeshire and north Carmarthenshire were earmarked with concern for journey times, but it was noted services would be developed within these communities.

Mr Davies said that an ageing service needs to be updated instead of passing the problem to the next generation, and that the level of investment sought would benefit the wider economy of the county.

Western Telegraph: Mr Davies admitted people may have to travel further, but the service on offer will be better
Western Telegraph: Mr Davies admitted people may have to travel further, but the service on offer will be better

Mr Davies admitted people may have to travel further, but the service on offer will be better

A petition is to be debated at the Senedd on Wednesday, June 29, asking the Welsh Government to retain a 24-hour consultant-led, accident and emergency department at Withybush Hospital.

This is something that looks a foregone conclusion with Mr Davies reiterating Withybush would become a community-led hospital that meets the majority of demand through minor injury units.

Mr Davies said the decision was made on the back of an extensive consultation exercise back in 2017/18.

“The zones we have identified provide access within 60 minutes for the vast majority. We calculate 98 per cent would be in 60 minutes,” said Mr Davies.

“When they reach the hospital there will be a more robust resilient set of services with senior cover. Right now people have to go past Withybush to get those services.

“While travelling further, people will get a stronger service when they get there.”

Western Telegraph: The Save Withybush campaign have organised rallies outside the hospital, calling on the health board to give assurances about A&E in the county
Western Telegraph: The Save Withybush campaign have organised rallies outside the hospital, calling on the health board to give assurances about A&E in the county

The Save Withybush campaign have organised rallies outside the hospital, calling on the health board to give assurances about A&E in the county

Read more: Hywel Dda announce five possible locations for new hospital site

Asked about concerns over ambulance times and travelling on country roads, director of operations Andrew Carruthers said the Welsh Ambulance Trust are currently undergoing a capacity review, and Hywel Dda will work with the service once the results have been released.

Mr Davies finished by saying people need to look at the plans from a wider perspective as well as the healthcare on offer.

“The big question for everyone is whether we want to try keep going with this and pass the problem on to the next generation or take the action we need to provide more security and sustainability for services,” finished Mr Davies.

“In 10 years’ time we want to talk about bringing services back because of economies of scale and centralisation of resources the new hospital can offer.”

Click here to go to Talking Health. An involvement and engagement scheme which gives local people an opportunity to have their say in how local health services are planned

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