A HEALTH board has been accused of trying to cover up plans for a second round of NHS service reforms in North Wales.
An initial public consultation into the changes was recently closed by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
Under those proposals, Flint Community Hospital looks set to be axed and replaced with a Primary Care Resource Centre, while Mold Community Hospital could lose its Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) and X-ray service.
Llangollen Community Hospital is also facing the axe, as is the MIU at Chirk Community Hospital.
The Special Care Baby Unit at Wrexham Maelor will be saved, but long-term neonatal intensive care could be moved to Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral.
Now Shadow Minister for Health Darren Millar, AM, has said that correspondence he received from the National Clinical Forum shows a second round of consultations for the region is also in the pipeline.
In addition Mr Millar accused the forum of re-writing a report on a previous round of changes following private discussions it held with Betsi Cadwaladr’s chief executive, Mary Burrows.
The forum warned the board that its proposals were “unsustainable” in the long term, but their assessment was later rewritten reportedly following Mrs Burrows’ intervention.
Mr Millar said: “I am absolutely baffled to hear a second consultation is already being planned by the health board.
“Despite all the opposition to the controversial and dangerous proposals already brought forward, we now know there’s more pain to come.
“Communities across North Wales will be extremely worried by this development and deserve to know what else is being planned.
“Despite being happy to discuss this process over email with the National Clinical Forum chairman, the health board has kept any mention of this a secret to others. That shows a startling lack of transparency.”
Betsi Cadwaladr's chief executive, Mary Burrows confirmed that discussions had taken place with the National Clinical Forum which was asked to clarify its stance on proposals.
She said: “Discussions were held with the chairman of the National Clinical Forum about their initial response to the consultation, which was received on October 26.
The National Clinical Forum was asked to clarify their stance on the specific proposals for change in the consultation document, which they have now done.
“The response from the National Clinical Forum expressed concern about the longer term sustainability of acute hospital services in North Wales.
“In our consultation document we did not propose to change these services at present, but we did make it clear in the document that this was conditional on the ability to meet standards within the resources available.
“In our board meeting in July, we confirmed that clinicians across North Wales need to work together to deliver safe services but the board clearly recognised the risks within this approach.
“The board has been open regarding these risks throughout and had already published a letter from the National Clinical Forum with the July board papers which set out these risks.
“It is expected that early in 2013 the health board will receive an update from the clinicians working on acute hospital services and further consideration will be given at that time.”
A FLINTSHIRE councillor has criticised the health board in Wales for making “unsustainbable” long term changes.
Mostyn councillor Patrick Heesom referred to the report criticising NHS changes during a meeting in County Hall, Mold, yesterday.
Speaking during the full council meeting, Mr Heesom said there was “one arm of the Government saying one thing, and another saying something else”.
He told the Leader after the meeting: “I think the recommendations BCUHB has made are unsustainable.
“It would mean the local connection would be destroyed within the health service. People would not get the same level of service. It would just snowball.”