The plans discussed at the Hywel Dda Health Board's meeting today are not new proposals. They are basically another version of the plan to downgrade Withybush Hospital that the Welsh Labour Government launched 15 years ago. We have heard talk about a new hospital near St Clears for a long time but have never seen any specific proposal or funding package.
The people of Pembrokeshire have made their views about the future of Withybush very clear time and time again. Along with thousands of other local residents I have marched and protested in the name of saving local services. The removal of services from Withybush by Mark Drakeford and the other former health ministers will not be forgotten.
New investment certainly would be welcome, but something doesn’t add up here. I can’t see how Hywel Dda can maintain and staff a brand new hospital as well as keeping both Withybush and Glangwili open as community hospitals.
The Health Board have struggled to fill key medical posts for years and this has always been used to justify centralising services in Carmarthen with Pembrokeshire losing out. Staffing an additional facility across the two Counties will be very challenging.
My fear is that the permanent removal of Paediatric services from Withybush now looks inevitable. Many local parents have contacted me to express their anxieties about having to make longer journeys with a sick child.
Under these proposals Emergency and Urgent Care would be removed from Withybush. Given the problems in the Welsh Ambulance Service, the fears of people in places like Dale and St Davids are that services will be too far away to reach in time.
The Health Board need to show they are understanding the genuine concerns and medical needs of local residents as these plans progress.
I would be interested to see what Eluned Morgan, the Welsh Health Minister and regional AM who keeps an office in our County town, has to say to local families about these proposals.