CAMPAIGNERS are gearing-up for a showdown over health services to be provided in their town.
A crunch public meeting about plans for a controversial new health centre in Flint, which has been organised by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), takes place later today.
Campaigners who fought the plan to close Flint Cottage Hospital last year have been going door-to-door, putting up flyers and placing banners on the gates of the old cottage hospital to drum up support in advance of the summit.
Flint’s hospital was shut last year despite an outcry in the town and hundreds marching in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to save the facility.
Theresa Williams, who has been involved in the campaign since the outset, said people in the town wanted the new medical facility to include a minor injuries unit and some community beds.
She said: “They want to spend the money on a what is essentially a doctors’ surgery. We’re trying to get them to spend it on improving the cottage hospital or for the new building to get a minor injuries unit and some beds.
“The nearest place for minor injuries is Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan. We’ve seen the problems there. We’re a growing town and feel a minor injuries unit is a basic thing we need.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from people and we hope as many come and raise their views. Otherwise the health board can say they asked people in Flint but they weren’t that bothered.”
Mike Evans, spokesman for the Save Flint Cottage Hospital campaign group, said he was confident the health board would listen to their concerns since he had spoken to the officials directly as part of a steering board.
He said: “They have now instructed the board to come back and do a proper listening exercise. I think the plans may change.”
He added he was very interested to know where the health board planned to locate the new facility – which is yet to be announced.
In an earlier protest by campaigners, banners, messages and floral tributes to loved ones placed on the cottage hospital gates were removed by the health board.
The move was labelled a “disgrace” – and now more messages and keepsakes have been pinned to the gates ahead of tomorrow’s meeting.
Today’s BCUHB drop-in session will be held between 3.30pm and 7pm in St Mary’s Club in Flint, where residents can meet with members of health board staff involved with the project and join in the discussions. Two specific workshops will be held at the session at 4pm and 6pm.
Flint’s new health centre, which is due to be completed next year, will provide GPs, community nurses, outpatient clinics as well as local authority services and voluntary organisations.
A further workshop will then take place on Thursday, April 3.
A spokesman for the health board said: “The workshops will allow local residents to put forward ideas on what community health services would be most beneficial to Flint and to discuss what new services could be set up in the health centre.
“There will also be an update on the potential locations.”
“We welcome the input of local community representatives to a constructive discussion which will help shape the plans further.
“The former hospital premises are not fit for the future delivery of modern community healthcare services and limit our ability to increase the range of facilities we wish to offer.”
The spokesman said in-patient beds and minor injury services were not included in proposals.
He said: “We recognise there are strong feelings regarding these changes to services but trust this will not prevent the development of services which will address other needs in the locality.”
He added the security of the old cottage hospital must be respected and any items left there might be moved to a secure place.