COMMUNITY groups have sent out a rallying cry for more people to join their campaign against controversial health reforms.
Campaigners from Save Flint Cottage Hospital have vowed to team up with pressure groups from across North Wales to fight plans by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to change neonatal and community services.
Their plans include a mass protest at the Labour conference in Llandudno which falls on March 22 to 24.
Jack Reece, spokesman for Save Flint Cottage Hospital, said: “We are teaming up with groups across Wales – all the campaigns are getting together. Flint, together with Llangollen, Ruthin, Prestatyn and more, will be there. We are organising it as we speak.
“The Labour conference in March means the Welsh Government is going to be on our doorstep.
“The only way we can fight this now is by appealing directly to AMs. If it comes to a vote in the Senedd we need every member out to move on this.”
Mr Reece branded as shocking the health board’s recent decision to go ahead with the removal of inpatient beds and the Minor Injuries Unit in Flint Hospital, and to move high-level intensive care for babies born below 17 weeks from the Wrexham Maelor Hospital to Arrowe Park, Wirral.
He said: “Our campaign will spread now. We welcome every single person to come along – the bigger the turn out the more the Welsh Government will see this is not wanted by the people of Wales.”
Mr Reece pledged the pressure group would take the fight to Cardiff if necessary, and said a Facebook group was gathering momentum while campaigners had already sent 600 letters to Assembly Members and the Community Health Council in just four days.
Flint councillor Alex Aldridge said it was right and proper for members of the public to make their feelings known through demonstration.
Ruth Drake, of Cherish, the Special Care Baby Unit support group which fought proposals to remove high-level neonatal intensive care from the Wrexham Maelor, said the group was meeting next month and would see if any members could make it to the Llandudno demonstration.
She said: “We are not prepared to give up and we will be appealing to the powers that be to overturn the decision at the last hurdle.”
Yesterday, the Community Health Council, an independent voice in Welsh Healthcare, met to discuss changes to the proposals which will see Mold Community Hospital designated a healthcare hub rather than Deeside hospital.
CHC vice-chairman April Harper said: “The health board has changed some of its plans in response to what we and others said during the consultation – and we are pleased about that.
“The board also recognised several of the other concerns we put to it in meetings and exchanges of papers over the past six weeks – for example, about whether there would be enough in-patient beds to meet the need for them, and about facilities at Arrowe Park Hospital for families who may need to go there.
"But it is also fair to say the CHC has had many calls from people who are very disappointed – indeed angry – that the board has turned its face against the arguments made against some of its proposals.”
The CHC now has a month to decide whether to approve the proposals or to refer them to Leslie Griffiths, Wrexham AM and Welsh Government minister for health and social services.
If the CHC gives its approval to the proposals, then the last legal requirement for the consultation will be met and the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board will proceed.