THE chief officer of the Community Health Council said Welsh Government health minister Mark Drakeford will be closely monitoring events in Flint.
Flint residents turned out in force to vote for the return of hospital inpatient beds to the town on Thursday after Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) closed its community hospital last year.
About 700 people made history by voting to trigger a county council-run referendum to vote on whether inpatient beds should return to the town, as BCUHB lines up a new health centre to replace the now defunct hospital.
CHC chief officer Geoff Ryal-Harvey cited the vote as “a significant development” and warned that the health board – which ahead of last week’s landmark meeting reinstated its stance that inpatient beds would not return to Flint – won’t be able to shrug the move off.
“It’s history,” he said. “It’s an amazing turnout for a local referendum vote.
“It’s a real demonstration of how concerned people in Flint are about local services.
“I’m aware that the new chair of BCUHB, Peter Higson, has been to speak to them many times and I’m sure he’ll be taking a good deal of notice.
“I’m sure they’ll want to take it on board at a time when the planning process is still very flexible.
“The project development is not compete yet. They are still in the planning process with the Welsh Government and I’m absolutely sure the minister will be following this development with a good deal of interest.
“Anything is still possible. It’s a significant development that can’t be shrugged off by anyone,” he added.
Flintshire Council chief executive Colin Everett will now be notified of the vote and a date for the referendum will be set, giving Flint residents another chance to stand up and be counted over the inpatient beds issue.
A BCUHB spokesman said: “We always take seriously any form of local representation on matters within the remit of the health board.
“The decision to close the inpatient beds at Flint Hospital was taken following careful consideration of all the issues surrounding the service and was not one that was taken lightly.
“The health board was fully aware, throughout the decision making period and since that time, of the strong views held by parts of the community on this issue but does have a duty to provide care in a way that is sustainable and safe for all the population and to ensure that this will continue to meet health needs effectively into the future.”