Gwent hospital plan 'dangerous' - doctors' leaders
10:27am Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in News
DOCTORS' leaders in Wales have slammed as "dangerous" the use of Gwent's proposed Specialist and Critical Care Centre as a basis for regional reform of hospital services.
The project - earmarked for the former Llanfrechfa Grange Hospital site near Cwmbran - has not been formally approved and remains several years from completion, but is a vital component of all four options for reorganising key acute services in South Wales.
And the British Medical Association (BMA) Cymru, which represents doctors in Wales, has expressed "significant concern" over that situation in its response to South Wales health boards' hospitals services reorganisation proposals, known as the South Wales Programme.
The Specialist and Critical Care Centre (SCCC) is intended to treat Gwent's sickest patients, reproviding a range of services currently found at the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall Hospitals.
Health minister Professor Mark Drakeford postponed a decision on Aneurin Bevan Health Board's outline business case for the £270 million project until after the hospital services reorganisation is decided.
Such has been the response to a public consultation, this is unlikely until December, instead of October as originally proposed.
But BMA Cymru believes action must be taken sooner rather than later to deal with mounting pressure on the NHS in Wales.
"Our concern relates to the fact that there is presently no cast-iron guarantee that this proposed new facility will actually be delivered," states BMA Cymru's response.
"AneurinBevan Health Board's outline business case is still awaiting approval from the Welsh Government and, and although outline planning approval has been obtained, full and detailed planning approval... has still to be sought. There is still therefore a degree of risk that this new facility will not ultimately be realised.
"Until such time as there is greater certainty that the full go-ahead for the SCCC can be guaranteed, we believe it is dangerous that its establishment should be used as a basis for all of the options under consideration for the future of consultant-led maternity care, neonatal care, inpatient paediatrics, and consultant-led mergency medicine to serve the populations of South Wales and South Powys.
"If one of the present four options is ultimately chosen, and it subsequently becomes apparent that the establishment of the SCCC will not after all progress, we are deeply concerned that the provision for this part of Wales of the consultant-led services referred to above could therefore be placed in jeopardy."
Dr Phil Banfield, chairman of the BMA's Welsh Council, said having all options predicated on building the SCCC is "a fundamental problem."
"It seems an unnecessary risk, depending on something that will be delivered in 2018/19 when the NHS in Wales needs change now," he said.
BMA Cymru's concerns over a lack of detail on South Wales hospital services reorganisation also take in issues such as primary and community care, transportation of patients, and doctors' training.