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CHC accuses board of snubbing A&E petition

By Llanelli Star  |  Posted: January 23, 2013

CONTROVERSIAL plans to axe Llanelli's A&E department are set to be referred to Health Minister Lesley Griffiths after Hywel Dda approved the proposals.

Chairman of Hywel Dda Community Health Council (CHC) Tony Wales said the scrutiny body would be using its powers of referral to send the plans to the Assembly for a final decision following the board's approval of the recommendations last week.

Last Tuesday, the health board held an extraordinary meeting and passed all five of its recommendations for a shake-up of health services in the region — including replacing Prince Philip Hospital's A&E department with a nurse-delivered unscheduled care service.

Following the meeting Mr Wales said the public had been "hoodwinked" and accused the board of largely ignoring the views of the public.

Now he has vowed to take the decision to the next level — urging the CHC to support plans to refer the decision to the health minister.

Mr Wales said: "I'm reasonably confident that the executive will want to support my request.

"We certainly will want to make that power of referral.

"But we shouldn't underestimate the amount of work that we will have to do."

He said he was horrified by the apparent dismissal of the 24,000-name petition opposing proposals to scrap Llanelli's A&E. To say to everybody it's not a referendum so we are not going to take any notice of their views — I'm really, really struggling with their comment.

"I'm horrified to hear that they can be so dismissive of a petition which was very passionately supported.

"What we've really got to do is stir it up in public now. I would argue they (the board) will just forge ahead. They should be held to account."

But a Welsh Government spokeswoman said the powers of referral should only be used as a "last resort".

The spokeswoman said: "Now the Hywel Dda Health Board has published its final plans, the local Community Health Council has six weeks to decide whether to make a referral to the Minister for Health and Social Services.

"National guidance is clear CHCs should make every effort to reach agreement with the health board and referrals should only be used as a last resort. The minister will make a determination at the appropriate time."

A Hywel Dda Health Board spokeswoman said: "We have not officially been informed by the CHC of any official decision and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Mr Wales said that the body will reach a decision today on whether to use its referral powers.

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