Last week’s decision to close four community hospitals, downgrade services at others and transfer intensive care for newborn babies to the Wirral has been criticised in the Welsh Assembly Chamber.
During the Welsh Conservative Debate on NHS Reconfiguration, North Wales Assembly Member, Mark Isherwood, spoke of the many concerns regarding both the changes in North Wales and the preceding consultation, described by campaigners as "a sham".
* Mark Sisherwood AM.
He said: “Twenty-six community beds are to be cut across North Wales, despite bed occupancy levels of 95% and above in the community hospitals now being closed or expected to fill the gap.
“The GP who set up the pilot Enhanced Care at Home scheme with the Health Board, has stated that: 'This will bring a service that is currently frequently gridlocked, further to its knees' and that 'a central part of the proposed shake-up of health services – providing more care in people’s homes – won’t fill the gap left by shutting community hospitals'.
“The Director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, stated: 'There is insufficient capacity within the community to discharge patients out of hospital.'”
Mr Isherwood said that fears have also been expressed by local authorities that the health board’s plans will shift costs to councils and criticised the fact the consultation document lacked reference to what the health board could learn from the third sector about the integration of care services in the home, community, hospital and hospices.
He added: “They (Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board)tell us the changes will lead to better patient care, but reducing community hospital beds and moving services further away from often vulnerable patients will damage, rather than enhance, community based health services.
“A Llangollen campaigner emailed 'The fight against the closure of our hospital has taken on a deeply personal aspect. My condition is incurable and I’m now under palliative care. I’d rather receive end-of-life care in my own local hospital.'"
Mr Isherwood stressed that it is Labour Welsh Government policy and its "record breaking cuts that have driven theses closures and downgrading of services".
He added: “Health spending was cut following the budget devolved to Wales by the last Labour UK Government. Today, the Welsh NHS is facing the deepest cuts of any UK Nation.
“Let us hope that in acting as judge and jury to plans resuing from her own policies,this Minister is not now also the executioner of services.”