WATCHDOG bosses say they may not take advantage of 10 extra days to decide if they will ask for an intervention from Health Minister Lesley Griffiths.
Controversial health service changes were given the green light by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) in January.
Watchdog body, the community health council (CHC), had until tomorrow to decide whether to refer any concerns to Health Minister Lesley Griffiths, the Wrexham AM, but last week indicated it would not do so, sparking outrage from campaigners and community leaders.
Ms Griffiths has granted an extension to the CHC to ‘finalise its position’ but in a statement yesterday the CHC said the extension might not be used.
“We have received confirmation from Welsh Government that the deadline may be extended a little if the CHC executive feels it is necessary,” a spokesman said.
“The CHC is now confident we can provide a final letter to the Minister by the original deadline of March 1.”
During health questions in the Senedd yesterday Ms Griffiths confirmed she could still intervene, even if matters are not referred to her by the CHC.
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The CHC has until March 11 to decide if any matters should be referred to her for determination.”
Mabon ap Gwynfor, chairman of the North Wales Health Alliance, which represent campaign groups across the region, said: “It’s good the minister has extended the deadline. We have more time to give our argument and persuade the CHC executive they should follow the lead of community health councils in Mid and West Wales and refer plans.
“It would seem odd the Health Minister could make decisions there and not in North Wales. The minister has a duty to take control.
“We think the CHC has been caught in the middle of a fight it wasn’t expecting and didn’t want, but its role is as a watchdog and to represent the interests of the people of North Wales and so far it has failed to do that. We are hoping they will use these 10 days wisely to work with us and refer the decision.”
BCUHB’s controversial plans include moving level three neo-natal care out of North Wales to Wirral and closing some community hospitals such as Flint and Llangollen.
North Wales regional AMs Llyr Huws Gruffydd and Aled Roberts, together with Clwyd West AM Darren Millar and Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones, issued an all-Party statement, saying: “We urge the community health council to reconsider its position on this matter and refer the Health Board’s decisions to the minister.
“In the event that the community health council fails to refer this matter, we will be calling upon the minister to use her powers to intervene.”
A BCUHB spokesman said: “We are working closely with the CHC to ensure they have all the information necessary to enable a full response at the earliest opportunity.”