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Monday, January 14, 2013

Watchdog to keep an eye on health shake-up

A watchdog organisation says it will be keeping an eye on proceedings as health chiefs make up their mind on a major shake-up of services at a meeting later this week. 

North Wales Community Health Council (CHC), the independent body which safeguards patients’ interests, says it will be at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board meeting on Friday, January 18 to hear its decision about changes in NHS services following last year’s public consultation.  

The changes include controversial plans to shut down Llangollen Cottage Hospital and replace it with a new health centre. 

The hospital’s in-patient beds would be lost, meaning people would be cared for at private facilities or at Chirk Community Hospital. 

The CHC has already asked the board to think again about its proposals for some important services.  

CHC Chief Officer, Pat Billingham, said: “We sent our formal response to the health board’s consultation document back in November.  

“It included several questions and concerns about the health board’s proposals. CHC staff and members had further talks with health board managers during December and, as a result, we have written to the chair of the health board this week with our further comments.  

“Our letter says that we believe that several of the board’s proposals will be in the interest of people who use services, and the health service. These are the proposals for moving services from hospitals to closer to where people live and neonatal intensive care services.  

“It goes on to say that other proposals should be modified so we can be sure that that they will be in the interest of people who use services.  

“These are the proposals for community hospital services, including some minor injury and x-ray services, the complex vascular surgery service and older people’s mental health services.” 

The CHC’s chair, Christine Evans, said: “CHC members are still worried about some aspects of the proposals.  

“These include a timetable which may see some inpatient services closed before the enhanced care service has been introduced, other services removed from hospitals before there are firm plans for developing new facilities to house these services and could lead to much poorer access to services for people living in rural communities.”  

She added: “When the health board meets on January 18 it will have all the information it needs: what the public thinks about its proposals, what we think about them and, we understand, details of the financial and staffing implications of the proposals. 
“We will be there to hear, first hand, what it decides to do. And then we can consider whether we need to raise any formal objections.”

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