CAMPAIGNERS have demanded answers to fresh questions about the controversial closure of a community hospital.
Save Flint Cottage Hospital campaign group held a demonstration outside a meeting of health board bosses amid concerns that the public was kept in the dark during the consultation into the closure of the facility.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) members met at Wrexham Maelor Hospital yesterday morning.
And campaign spokesman Mike Evans said the group presented a letter to BCUHB chairman Peter Higson ahead of the meeting, seeking clarity on issues raised at a meeting last week.
Mr Evans said at last week’s meeting between the campaign group and the health board it became clear alternative hospital bed provision for Flint residents had not materialised when Flint Community Hospital closed.
Mr Evans said enhanced care at home, nursing home beds and provision at the new Holywell Hospital were supposed to fill the gap left when Flint closed but it had not happened.
Flint GPs would not send patients to Holywell because they would have to travel there to treat them, nursing home beds were not guaranteed and home enhanced care was not a 24-hour service.
And he said health board bosses needed to confirm whether or not they had anticipated the problems at the time of the public consultation.
A BCUHB spokesman said yesterday: “Before today’s board meeting the health board chairman Dr Peter Higson met with, and received a letter from, representatives of the Flint Hospital campaign group. He gave a commitment to respond within the next 10 days.
“Among concerns raised by the group is that Flint GPs do not currently provide medical cover for patients admitted to Holywell Community Hospital. However, only a small number of patients are admitted straight into a community hospital by their GP.
“The majority of patients admitted to community hospital beds have been transferred from a major hospital once they reach an appropriate stage of recovery following major illness. This means they can then be cared for closer to home and helps reduce the pressure on acute hospital beds.
“When the beds closed at Flint Hospital, an extra four beds were opened at Holywell to make sure that there was sufficient capacity to admit people from Flint. After taking account of seasonal variations, the number of Flint residents being admitted to Holywell Hospital has been consistent with the numbers who were admitted to Flint Hospital before its closure. Occasionally we do have had to admit someone from Flint to another community hospital in the area, but the frequency of this hasn’t changed since the closure of Flint Hospital, and is often at the request of the patient or their family.”
The spokesman added: “A small number of less-seriously ill patients can be admitted straight into community hospitals from home, where this facility exists across North Wales. At present, GPs based in Holywell provide the medical cover for their patients who are admitted in this way. For people living in Flint, medical cover is provided by the Glan Clwyd consultants, by special arrangement with their GPs; discussions are taking place at the moment.
“The need for direct admission has reduced since the Enhanced Care at Home service was launched in Flint in August 2013. Many patients can now be cared for in their own homes, receiving the nursing, medical and other care they need without the need for an admission to a community hospital.
“This service is also helping some people to return home directly from Glan Clwyd Hospital, without a stay in a community hospital.”