Plaid Cymru representatives have come together to oppose any moves this month to reduce capacity at a key A&E department.
A letter has been sent by Leanne Wood – Member of the Senedd for the Rhondda –to the chairman of Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board ahead of a meeting later this month. It has been signed by a number of local councillors, including Heledd Fychan, the party’s candidate for Pontypridd in next year’s Senedd elections.
The letter expresses concern that any removal of services from the Royal Glamorgan’s A&E department would endanger communities across the wide area the hospital serves.
The letter states: Following last week’s announcement that the Health Board is due to make a decision on the future of the Accident and Emergency Department at a meeting later this month, we are writing to you as Plaid Cymru representatives in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr and Bridgend to reiterate our support for the permanent retention of a 24-hour consultant led Accident and Emergency department at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital and for the South Wales Programme, which has driven the proposed reduction in A&E services, to be amended or abandoned.
‘As you will be aware from previous discussions and correspondence, we are concerned that any downgrading or closure of the service would endanger our communities for the following reasons.
‘The time taken to reach alternative hospitals would make the difference between life and death for some members of our communities. This is of particular concern at peak travel times, when traffic is heavy on the roads and also at times of extreme weather when many roads become impassable.
‘Any downgrading or closure would put undue strain on already overstretched alternative A&E departments and hospitals. Does the Princess of Wales Hospital and the Prince Charles Hospital have capacity to deal with the increase, when they themselves currently have to close to new patients and redirect to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital?
‘Transport infrastructure is currently very poor, and for those without cars, it would lead to longer journeys on public transport with some communities currently served by the Royal Glamorgan Hospital unable to reach other hospitals by public transport. This is likely to lead to people who need to visit the A&E Department dying unnecessarily, as they cannot access the alternatives.’
The letter adds: ‘We are also concerned that this decision is being progressed at a time when responding to Covid-19 remains a priority for the NHS and would ask you to consider if this is the best time to take such a major decision, unless of course the plan now is to retain the Accident and Emergency Department as a 24 hour service.
‘If this is not the case, and you are still considering downgrading or closing the department, we believe that this timescale would not allow enough time for lessons to be learnt from the Covid-19 crisis and would ask that you reflect on this and re-think.
‘It may also be too early to know the full extent of your success in terms of recruitment. We were pleased to hear of your recent successes in appointing a full-time consultant as a clinical lead for the department, as well as another consultant. This is a welcome step forward, and we hope recruitment continues to be successful.
‘Further, we would be grateful to receive any information you have in relation to what progress is being made to amend or reject the South Wales programme of changes which has contributed to the problems of recruitment at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in recent years.’
The letter adds: ‘No decision to reduce services should be allowed to progress while responding to Covid-19 remains a priority for the NHS. Unless the proposal to the Board is to retain the Accident and Emergency Department as a 24-hour full service, the decision should not be taken in June. A June decision to reduce services would not allow enough time for lessons to be learnt from the Covid-19 crisis.
‘We were pleased to hear of the recent successes in appointing a full-time consultant as a clinical lead for the department, as well as another consultant. This is a welcome step forward, and we hope recruitment continues to be successful and that this means we can save our highly valued A&E.
‘We would be grateful to receive a response to the points raised in this letter and also that this letter is forwarded to all members of the Board.’
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