CAMPAIGNERS are furious inpatient admissions to a threatened hospital have been frozen.
Community leaders reacted with shock to a decision that no new inpatients will be admitted to Flint Community Hospital – even though an independent watchdog has until the end of the month to call a halt to controversial plans to axe services.
The Community Health Council (CHC), which has the power to lodge a referral with Lesley Griffiths, Wrexham AM and Minister for Health, still has more than three weeks to decide whether or not to act.
A town council meeting last night heard the closure of the hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) could be less than two weeks away.
Flint Hospital campaigners say they are livid that Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is “rushing” through proposed changes that will see key facilities at Flint Hospital dismantled, with community leaders believing the town has been “snubbed”.
A campaign spokesman said: “This is the latest in a long line of shabby manoeuvres that BCUHB has pulled in the past 12 months.
"We now call on all of our elected representatives to urgently take up this issue on behalf of the most vulnerable within the community.
“Much has been said about the need to change in recent weeks. However, there is one thing that has not changed – and that is the health board’s arrogance and disconnect from the people that they should serve.”
With the CHC currently reviewing whether the decision should be referred to the Welsh Health Minister, campaigners reacted with shock to a leaked email which revealed inpatient admissions would stop immediately.
The spokesman added: “We will not let this hospital close. BCUHB has offered no improvements in health provision for the people of Flint. They have offered a Skype link to Glan Clwyd from your home, a bus to Holywell and one end of life bed at a private nursing home.
“This is nothing short of a disgrace. People are angry and are prepared to do whatever is required to make the policy makers sit up and listen and take a closer look at the disastrous plans.”
Last week, Jack Reece of the Flint Hospital Campaign group pledged to lobby Labour AMs at their annual conference in Llandudno in March.
Flint councillor Ian Roberts told the Leader: “I'm absolutely shocked. It is still going through due process at the moment. If this is the case, when the decision to close hospital facilities has not been ratified, if admissions are being frozen it should be taken up immediately with the Welsh Assembly Government.
“The board should be waiting for due process to go through. This is how a desperate organisation behaves.”
The closure of the MIU at the hospital, which was scheduled for an unspecified date in February, will also go through in the next few weeks.
Last night, Cllr Alex Aldridge told town councillors the information he had seen indicated the health board could close the MIU within the next two weeks.
He described the plans as “one of the biggest snubs” he had ever seen. “I find this an insult,” he told the meeting.
Members agreed for the council to write urgently to politicians and the CHC to make clear their opposition.
Cllr Terry Renshaw said: “They have never given us this information directly.
“It’s an absolutely embarrassing, disgusting state of affairs when a public body does this. They cannot do this.”
A Betsi Cadwaladr spokesman said: “We are suspending beds at the hospitals where there are plans to remove inpatient services.”
This means the suspensions are likely to also affect Llangollen Community Hospital and Prestatyn Hospital.
The spokesman aded: “There are currently no plans to remove beds (occupied by patients already in the hospital).
“We will want to move MIU units as quickly as possible.”
l According to the proposals which were given the green-light at a special meeting of the board on January 18, minor injuries services will be provided at Holywell Hospital, which would also provide some inpatient services to Flint patients.
Inpatient beds will close in Flint by April, while the Enhanced Care at Home service is scheduled to be rolled out in the area by June.