Students pass vote of no confidence in Hywel Dda Health Board

ABERYSTWYTH University Students’ Union passed a vote of no confidence in Hywel Dda health board that is responsible for governing Bronglais General Hospital in Aberystwyth, after a unanimous vote at the assembly held on Tuesday 11th February.

862splashscreenThe vote was held after increasing fears from the public in recent months, with a public meeting on the issue held by Aberystwyth Town Council on Friday 10th January 2014, where the room also gave a vote of no-confidence in the health board.

Hywel Dda who were invited to attend the meeting to give a response, failed to do so.

It has also been claimed by a member of the Ceredigion Hywel Dda Community Health Council, David Thomson, that they are moving services to South Wales by “stealth”, with colo-rectal surgery being centralised from Bronglais to Carmarthen. Bronglais hospital has also lost 24% of beds in the last four years.

There is an increasing worry that services at Bronglais are being cut back and transferred to Camarthen, and any loss of an A&E will leave those needing emergency treatment having to be rushed to Glangwili General Hospital which is over an hour away; this could be fatal for anybody with severe trauma or life-threatening injuries, with survival rates dropping after the “golden hour”.

In October 2013, Hywel Dda halted all non-urgent surgeries at four major hospitals, including Bronglais as a result of “increased pressure on services”, with concerns at the time from Unison being that all non-urgent orthopedic surgery until April 2014 would be cancelled.

The health board were also responsible for the closure of the Sexual Health Clinic on campus in January 2013, citing “low usage statistics” with services replaced by the University on campus in October last year.

Laura Dickens, Welfare Officer at Aberystwyth University Students’ Union, who proposed the vote of no confidence at the Student assembly said: “I asked for a vote of no confidence as I don’t feel students have been adequately consulted by Hywel Dda with the changes that are happening in health care. This was seen with the closure of the sexual health clinic and the ward closures in Bronglais. The fact that they didn’t send representation to the public meeting in January showed unwillingness to answer the public.

“We have had good news however, in that the new study on Mid-Wales health care has had student feedback included, so will include student needs when the review is being conducted.”

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CONCERNS have been raised over ambulance response times across Ceredigion, and proposed cuts to the maternity ward at Bronglais Hospital.

Bronglais General Hospital Photo - Tomos Nolan

Bronglais General Hospital
Photo – Tomos Nolan

Across Ceredigion in December, 60% of ambulances failed to attend the most serious calls within the target of eight minutes, although this was better than the Welsh average. Ceredigion AM Elin Jones called the reduction in the number of ambulances reaching the target worrying, stating that:

“The Welsh Government had claimed that the service was ‘on a solid basis’ for winter back in October when the service hit its Wales-wide target for the first time in over 18 months. Since then, the deterioration is worrying and suggests that improvements have still yet to happen despite assurances that they would.”

“It’s also concerning that 18 per cent of the most serious calls — that’s 51 emergencies — weren’t responded to within 15 minutes. There are real concerns about the level of ambulance cover in Ceredigion at the moment. The Welsh Government must get to grips with the failure of the ambulance service to hit its target response times.”

Plaid Cymru have claimed that the ambulance service in Ceredigion is “stretched too thinly”, after a Freedom of Information request showed that staffing targets have not been reached in the last three years. The information also confirmed that Ceredigion ambulances are used to cover other areas such as Machynlleth in Powys and parts of south Wales, following transfers of patients to larger hospitals such as Morriston in Swansea and Glangwili in Carmarthenshire.

A public consultation in January over the state of services at Bronglais Hospital raised concerns over the loss of facilities leading to treatment having to take place as far afield as Scotland.

Further problems have been raised about plans from Hywel Dda Health Board to axe the consultant maternity service at Bronglais and replace it with a midwife-led service. Aberystwyth couple Keith Davies and Alison Davies have hit out at these plans, claiming that a maternity led service would have left their baby son’s life in “grave danger”.

This change would mean that any high-risk births or those experiencing complications during a delivery would be transferred to a centralised unit at Carmarthen. The couple’s son William was born on New Year’s Day, but complications following the birth led to Ms Bradley spending 18 days in hospital.

The couple were warned that without the consultants at Bronglais Hospital, these complications could have been fatal. Ms Bradley said: “Without obstetrician and gynecological consultants at Bronglais, I would have been transferred to Carmarthen or Withybush which would have put William’s life in grave danger.”

“The proposed and seemingly irreversible decision to centralise such services in Carmarthen will endanger the lives of both babies and mothers across the region currently served so well by the team at Bronglais.”