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I was concerned to read about the planned changes to the GP Out of Hours Service in the Hywel Dda area. Whilst I understand the intense pressures on this service, the Health Board must ensure that there is proper doctor cover around the clock at Prince Philip Hospital.

Lee Waters AM and I have written to the Chief Executive of the Health Board seeking reassurances that people in Llanelli who need an out of hours appointment or treatment in the minor injuries unit will be seen at PPH in a timely manner. We have also pressed him for a timescale for these temporary measures, and we will be meeting those making these changes very shortly.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Steve,

We read with concern the news about Hywel Dda University Health Board’s planned changes to the GP Out of Hours Service.

Whilst we understand that the difficulty in filling GP rotas has put considerable pressure on this service, we believe that it is very important to ensure that people in the Llanelli area have access to doctors around the clock in Prince Philip Hospital (PPH) whether they are seeking a GP out of hours service or treatment in the minor injuries unit (MIU).   

In the press release we were sent by Hywel Dda, the quote from Dr Richard Archer says that the changes will help the Health Board provide “more of an overnight GP presence in Llanelli”. We know that staff in local hospitals have been under intense pressure in recent months. Can you therefore confirm whether or not the MIU will be staffed by at least one GP throughout the night, and confirm that the number of doctors on duty will be sufficient to deal with the likely demand, both for GP and MIU services? Please can you also reassure us that no one in the Llanelli area who requires an out of hours appointment will be redirected to Carmarthen to see a GP in Glangwili Hospital under these measures?

The press release also refers to “closing the overnight Out of Hours base in Llanelli”, whilst the accompanying briefing describes the temporary changes as including “closer working between the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) and Out of Hours service at PPH during the overnight period”. We would be grateful if you could clarify what the situation will be and set out exactly what changes to the services and staffing provided at PPH you expect to happen as a result of these new measures.

Given that the planned changes are temporary, please can you let us know if and when the Health Board intends to resume the full Out of Hours service at PPH? It would also be helpful to get more information about the process by which patients can submit their feedback about these temporary changes.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Nia Griffith MP and Lee Waters AM