We in Llanelli believe firmly in our National Health Service, and so does our Labour Welsh Government – a very different picture from over the border in England where the Tory Government’s latest legislation threatens to destroy the NHS as we know it.
We know that with greater life expectancy and medical advances there is ever-increasing demand, and costs are escalating. At the same time we know that the Tory-led coalition at Westminster is making savage cuts, including cuts to the Welsh Government’s budget which is bound to put pressure on the health budget.
We are all quite naturally apprehensive when we hear the local Health Board talk about change, and whilst people accept that for very specialist services they may have to travel elsewhere, we want to keep more routine services here.
Impact on the ambulance service – the more people have to be transported long distances, the greater the burden on the ambulance service – and we have had some very worrying examples of long waits for an ambulance – which is why Keith Davies AM and I have set up a meeting with the ambulance service.
Board members should be constantly vigilant, and seeking to eliminate wasteful expenditure. We have recently seen figure of paying over the odds for agency staff.
The Health Minister in the Assembly government has made it clear that she wants to see a proper meaningful consultation.
At the end of the day, it is the local health board the Hywel Dda Health Board that does the detail on any plans to move services around and it is absolutely vital that we make our views very clearly known – we have to argue the case clearly and logically – that’s what the Committee for Hospital Services SOSPPAN campaign ( SOSPPAN stands for Save our Services Prince Philip Action Network) is preparing to do at present, with the first formal meeting between members of the Committee and Health Board chiefs scheduled for 25th January. I am working hard with the committee to make the strongest possible case t the Health Board to keep services at Prince Philip Hospital, the hospital that is in the largest town in West Wales and that is in within 20 minutes drive of 50% of the population of Carmarthenshire.
An important date for your diaries is Tuesday 14th February when the Health Board will be in the Selwyn Samuel Centre from 11.30 until 6.30 – a chance for everyone to find out more, and to make our views known. The SOSPPAN campaign will then be holding a public meeting – details on http://www.sosppan.co.uk