Bronglais in crisis?

A RECENT meeting on 12th September at Penweddig School on Aberystwyth Health Services outlined the severe cuts facing Bronglais hospital.

The meeting, the second of its type arranged by Aberystwyth Town Council, was attended by around 250 people, including Mark Williams MP. There was no representative present from the Hywel Dda Health Board.

Bronglais General Hospital Tomos Nolan

Bronglais General Hospital
Photo – Tomos Nolan

Various people – patients, doctors and nurses – spoke of their experiences of local health services and of the impacts which cuts to Bronglais’ services have had on them, with many talking of having to make arduous – and expensive – journeys as far afield as Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen, Morriston Hospital in Swansea and Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli.

Bronglais hospital serves a catchment of over 100,000 people, with the nearest general hospitals being 90 miles to the north, 75 miles to the east and 48 miles to the south.

Over the last ten years beds have been cut at Bronglais from 177 to 118, despite a projected population growth in Ceredigion of up to 85,000 by 2016. The increasing move to transfer services away from Bronglais has also, it was claimed, led to a chronic shortage of ambulances in the area for emergencies as they are used to transfer patients between hospitals.

Crucially, consultant obstetrics care and neonatal care has been cut from Bronglais and moved to Carmarthen, potentially putting expectant mothers and their children at risk. With Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen already said to have an “overstretched” maternity unit, this move was described at the meeting as “ridiculous”. There were also concerns raised that Bronglais may lose its only cardiology consultant to Glangwili Hospital.

It was revealed at the meeting that mental health patients have at points had to be treated on the cardiac ward at Bronglais, after the mental health ward was shut. One leukaemia patient from Llandrindod Wells who was being treated at Bronglais was told that he would have to have his treatment and prescriptions transferred to Abergavenny, as the cancer ward at Bronglais was being downgraded.

A nurse who spoke at the meeting stated that:

“People in this area are treated as second class citizens… It is obscene what they [Hywel Dda executives] are paid. It is obscene that they are not here tonight.”

Mark Williams, MP, spoke of expectant mothers in Aberystwyth being sent letters from Hywel Dda telling them that they would have to give birth in Carmarthen, which was at first denied to him by the Hywel Dda chair – despite Mr. Williams having evidence. He further stated that:

“The status quo is not adequate. The health board does not, and never did, serve this community. Core services have to remain at Bronglais.”