TRIUMPHANT campaigners have welcomed a “bombshell” U-turn which looks set to return beds and minor injuries services to a town’s hospital.
As well as plans to introduce Flintshire’s first ‘home from home’ delivery room at a new £5 million health centre earmarked for Flint, discussions to resolve issues around returning beds and minor injuries (MI) services to the town will begin early in May.
The announcement was given by new Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) vice-chairman Margaret Hanson at a two-hour public meeting yesterday where proposals for the town’s new facility were outlined.
And Save Flint Cottage Hospital campaign group (SFCHCG) spokesman Mike Evans said campaigners’ two-year-long fight had paid off.
Following an earlier public consultation event in March, Mrs Hanson said the proposals were “still fluid” but were based on feedback from residents whose main concerns had been for beds in the town and a MI unit.
Last night’s presentation by BCUHB medical centre project director Robin Wiggs and Dr Tim Davies focused on plans which are set to include a physiotherapy hub and a team base for mental health services.
But Mrs Hanson - a Flint resident and wife of Delyn MP David Hanson - assured residents discussions with campaigners about bringing beds and MI back to Flint had already begun.
“I’m pleased to say we have begun the conversation and we’re meeting early in May to start a more formal conversation,” she said. “This is separate to the development of the health centre.”
Mrs Hanson welcomed the new relationship between the health board and SFCHCG.
“It’s been give and take both ways,” she said, “but there’s been more give from the health board because we have more to give.”
She added: “We will need to keep apologising for Flint being where it is today and there will still be difficulties because there always are in these cases.
“The prize at the end of the process will be something quite special.”
Mr Evans said residents’ two-year campaign had been a success.
“I believe all the hard work’s paid off. It’s brilliant. We’re getting what we asked for,” he said and added the group would make sure BCHUB followed through on what was being promised.
The expectation is for the health centre to be up and running by mid-2015.
“It’s great that minor injuries will be a central part of the plans,” Mr Evans said. “The beds issue is going to be resolved too and I firmly believe the cottage hospital site is where those beds will be.”
Mr Evans welcomed plans to provide facilities for women to give birth in Flint, something that has not existed since before the First World War.
Flint would have services “from the cradle to the grave”, he said.
“Flint residents have been given a bombshell today,” he said. “I always knew we’d do it.
“Nobody believed me but I believe we’ll end up with more than we had before.”
SFCHCG vice-chairman Sandra Williams gave credit to Mrs Hanson and new BCUHB chairman Dr Peter Higson. She said both had made a “great deal of difference” to the health board.
“It is the first time our group have been treated with respect and dignity,” she said.