Crunch meeting on Wrexham and Flintshire health shake-up

Reporter:

Rhian Waller

HEALTH bosses will discuss the findings of a major consultation at a special meeting.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board chiefs will meet on January 18 at the Optic Centre in St Asaph to discuss major changes which could lead to sweeping changes in NHS care in Wrexham and Flintshire.

Among the changes proposed is the closure of Flint Hospital, the removal of  X-ray services in Mold and the relocation of long-term intensive neonatal care from Wrexham Maelor to Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral.

A Betsi Cadwaladr spokesman said: “The board has been considering the feedback received from the formal consultation on proposed changes to healthcare services which took place up to the end of October 2012.

“The proposals were drawn up after lengthy discussions with doctors, other clinical staff, partner agencies, the Community Health Council and representatives of voluntary and community groups.”

The consultation sparked protests from Flint residents, with 2,000 people attending a march and almost 200 people attending a consultation meeting last month.

Parents whose babies underwent intensive, long-term neonatal care at Ysbyty Maelor also added their voices to the outcry, with Colin Down, the father of twins born at just 23-and-half weeks, saying it was ‘vital’ to retain the facilities in Wrexham.

The Betsi Cadwaladr spokesman said: “The consultation gave members of the public from across North Wales the chance to comment on the proposals.

"Many organisations including local authorities and town and community councils, other NHS bodies and professional organisations have responded.”

She added the health board is also considering any additional information that has been put forward, together with any alternative suggestions or ideas.

Chief executive Mary Burrows said: “We were pleased and encouraged so many people took the time to give their views.

“The feedback will be a significant element alongside other evidence the board will consider on how best we can provide safe, effective services for the people of North Wales as a whole.”

Initially, the health board planned to discuss the findings of the consultation at the end of December, but the date was subsequently pushed back.

Cllr Ian Roberts from Flint said: “At the last meeting we had regarding the consultation, I heard a local politician say he believed the delay was caused by a ‘tsunami’ of protests and I’d agree with this comment.

“As far as Flint is concerned, there’s considerable concern in the community about these proposals. There are a lot of people waiting to find out if the health board will take notice of what the people of Flint want.”

Cllr Roberts added health board members needed to recognise the responsibility they held in making these decisions.

He said: “The Community Health Council has their concerns and you know the opinion of the community of Flint when thousands marched down the street and even more replied to the online questionnaire.”

See full story in the Leader

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