The health service watchdog for North Wales has today spoken of its disappointment about the decision made by health board managers to temporarily suspend ‘non-urgent’ operations at the three main hospital sites - Ysbyty Gwynedd, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Wrexham Maelor.
Geoff Ryall-Harvey, Chief Officer for the North Wales Community Health Council, said "I am very surprised and disappointed to learn of this decision, in particular as the CHC has had no prior warning of this measure.
"The CHC has always quizzed the health board closely on plans for temporary changes if pressures on services increase and we have always been clear that if such plans proved necessary in the future, the board should give notification of such changes as far in advance as possible.
"I have asked the health board for more information behind these decisions and about the demands on emergency medical services across North Wales. It is worrying that none of the ‘usual’ causes for high levels of emergency admissions to hospitals – such as icy weather, causing trips and falls; flu and other respiratory infections – are an issue here.
"We will be seeking a detailed plan that will ensure that the suspension on planned operations will be lifted in the very near future – a promise to keep the matter under review on a daily basis is not good enough."
Mr Ryall- Harvey went on: "It is unfortunate for patients and their families that this suspension of services is happening every winter. Delays in planned operations could well result in those conditions becoming emergencies and it is my concern that there will be a real cost in terms of pain, suffering and worry for patients whose operations are delayed. We want people who are affected by this decision to tell us of any problems they have as a result.
"The CHC will be voicing its significant concerns about the possible impact of changes, temporary or not, on patients and will continue to monitor the impact of the changes across North Wales. The CHC supports the health board’s plan to undertake an urgent review to establish how this situation has developed so quickly and what can be done to ensure it is not a regular occurrence."