NORTH Wales’ health board has allayed fears another community hospital could shut despite ward closures and alleged discontent among staff.
A ward at Deeside Community Hospital was closed last month due to ‘staffing issues’ and councillors feared the move could lead to the hospital closing.
Councillors have also accused the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) of riding roughshod over communities and claim to ‘know the truth’ over staffing problems.
A former nurse has spoken of plummeting morale at the hospital while councillors say they have received representations from current staff members too afraid to speak out.
Cllr Carol Ellis, chairman of Flintshire Council’s social and health care overview and scrutiny committee, said: “I welcome news the hospital will remain open but I remain uneasy about the situation.”
She told councillors at Tuesday’s meeting of Buckley Town Council: “It is no secret a ward has closed at Deeside hospital. The health service in Wales is in crisis and it is certainly apparent here.
“BCUHB ride roughshod over us all.”
Flint Community Hospital was closed last year amid a huge public outcry and councillors feared Deeside’s could follow suit.
Cllr Ellis said: “Why not use bank nurses or agency nurses to contend with the staffing issues?
“In the meantime we have an empty ward and no fixed date when it will reopen.”
The number of available beds at Deeside hospital has more than halved, from 52 to 24, because of the problem.
A BCUHB spokesman said: “We recognise this has been a difficult time and that the temporary closure of the ward has caused some anxiety among the local community.
“The health board would like to make it clear there is no question of Deeside Community Hospital closing.
“It is a major facility for the local area, and in the last three years there has been significant investment in the site.
“The process of recruiting and appointing new members of staff is under way and the ward will reopen as soon as we have sufficient staff to make sure we can provide safe levels of nurse cover on every shift.”
BCUHB has previously stated staffing issues at the hospital over recent months have been caused by retirements, long-term sickness and a number of staff being on restricted duties while an investigation into standards of care is completed.
But Cllr Ron Hampson has said: “I know the truth, because I have had representations from several people working at Deeside Hospital.
“Five people have resigned in the last few months because of the way things are run.”
Amanda McCluskie, an auxiliary nurse for 24 years, says she felt forced to leave the hospital after “morale plummeted to an all-time low”.
“A lot of people are holding back from saying anything because they are scared,” she said.
“People are looking for other jobs and taking early retirement because they are so unhappy.
"The nurses are distressed. Many of them just don't want to be there."