HEALTH watchdogs in Gwent want to see improved public transport to hospitals across South Wales, to support patients and their families who might face longer journeys.

A re-organisation is focusing on running A&E, neonatal, paediatric inpatient and obstetrics services on fewer sites, a move that NHS bosses believe is vital to providing adequate staffing and maintaining safety.

But Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council (CHC) is concerned that in many areas people could be inconvenienced by having such services concentrated in hospitals further away from where they live.

The proposals for service reorganisation cover an area stretching from Monmouthshire across to Swansea. In Gwent they focus on the proposal for a new Specialist and Critical Care Centre (SCCC) near Cwmbran, which would become the base for the aforementioned services, though this will not happen until late 2018 and into 2019.

The Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall Hospitals currently provide them, but when the SCCC opens, the re-organisation will mean longer journeys, particularly for people living in north Gwent, even though both hospitals will retain a form of emergency department.

The CHC also wants assurances that the ambulance service will have the resources it needs to be able to take patients the extra distances required to access emergency hospital expertise. Its report on the reorganisation states that its support is conditional on receiving these assurances, but it is backing the option for change that involves five hospitals sites as bases for these services.

Regionally, these are the Specialist and Critical Care Centre, the University Hospital for Wales in Cardiff, Morriston Hospital in Swansea, the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, and Princes Charles Hospital at Merthyr Tydfil.

Health Boards meet next month to discuss the best way forward for the plan.