|* Clwyd South AM Ken Skates.|
Llan’s proposed multi-million-pound new health centre could be up and running by the end of 2014 or early 2015.
That is the prediction of local Assembly Member Ken Skates in his fullest statement yet on the future of health services in the town, requested yesterday (Monday) by llanblogger.
In the statement the Labour AM for Clwyd South also claims the planned centre would make “better use” of the site of the derelict River Lodge on the A539 approach to the town – the spot currently earmarked for its construction – than a “martial arts centre”
* (see note below)
And Mr Skates says he “shares the concerns” of local people about the possible loss of Llan Cottage Hospital.
The proposal to close the hospital and replace it with a new health facility was revealed in a report from the local Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board last month, which has sparked controversy in the town.
Campaign group Llangollen Protest, which opposes the closure of the hospital, organised a public meeting on the issue at the Hand Hotel last Thursday evening, which was attended by over 70 people.
Of those present, a majority of 51 voted for a local referendum to be held on the closure and Llangollen Protest is now pushing that forward.
No-one voted against the referendum call although six abstentions were recorded.
Mr Skates was not invited to the meeting, so was unable to state his position on the issue.
llanblogger therefore asked him to submit a statement, which we publish unedited below:
Ken Skates AM said:
Ken Skates AM said:
“The proposed remodelling of healthcare services in Llangollen is a very important issue indeed. The Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board need to get this crucial consultation process right and develop a set of health services that work for both the town and its people
“Plans have been announced for the creation of a brand new health centre for Llangollen and I welcome this. Improving healthcare in Llangollen has been restricted by the limitations of the town’s existing health and social care buildings and these proposals would see the dilapidated River Lodge Hotel converted into a 21st Century facility offering an enhanced range of primary, community, social care and voluntary sector services. Having examined the options, I believe this represents a much more sensible and constructive use of taxpayers money than the alternative proposal to use the site as a Shaolin Martial Arts Centre.
“The prospect of the cottage hospital is understandably an important issue and I share residents’ concerns about the potential loss of services, which is why I have sought clarification from the Health Board on a number of issues. They have confirmed that should a new health centre be given the go-ahead, it would provide the GP services, district nursing, health visiting, midwifery services, learning disability, outpatient and minor injury services that the town needs.
“It would also provide mental health services – which have been absent from the Llangollen area since the Oakleigh facility was closed a number of years ago – and Audiology services, which Llangollen residents currently have to travel to Wrexham Maelor to access. The Health Board has also provided reassurances that plans are in place to ensure a seamless transition from the current cottage hospital site and, subject to the outcome of the consultation exercise, would seek to begin work on the site by the end of 2013 with the new health centre open by the end of 2014/early 2015.
“I can understand the concerns have been expressed about the issues of beds and I have raised this with the Health Board. They have assured me that they are examining the options available to provide care for patients who cannot remain at home but do not need to be in hospital. Should the Health Board move towards commissioning beds in local nursing homes, I will once again push for assurances that, not only will the homes be local to Llangollen, but that the Health Board commits to funding the beds into the future.
“I will continue to lobby the Health Board to ensure that all the services that are currently based in Llangollen remain here and that additional services that will benefit the community are given space in a new health centre. I am having regular meetings with officials at the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board to feed back the issues raised with me by local people. The consultation needs to be comprehensive, transparent and robust, taking full account of everyone’s views to ensure we get the right result for people in Llangollen.”* The group Powys Fadog, which had been the lease-holder, had proposed building a comprehensive community facility in the old River Lodge building. This, it says, would have provided much more than martial arts but would also have encompassed a community and Welsh cultural centre, creating jobs for local people. Powys Fadog, represented Shaolin monk Pol Wong, claims its plan was thwarted by the Welsh Government.