It was sad to see all the dissillusioned people from Llanelli and the outlying rural areas ( where the Deer and the Antelope play ) rightly protesting at the expected closure of the A & E department of Prince Phillip Hospital. These are to be replaced by "Urgent Care Centres" ( whatevere the blazes they're supposed to do ) but no one in the Hywel DaDa Health Board has even tried to offer any details of what these 'Urgent Care Centres' will do - apart from sticking plasters on grazed knees. I sympathise with our far away bethren, because I thought it was only us urban citizens that faced bad service from NHS Wales. For instance, I live only 700 yards from Llandough Hospital ( no A&E Dept but...... ) and seven miles from the University Hospital in Cardiff, yet - incredibly we seem to have been getting worse service here than our rural cousins. Apparently, St Phillip and Withybush offer excellent A & E facilities, and have done so for years. I've always been envious of my good friend Diana in St David's as she always speaks of quick A&E treatment and wonderfully consistent inpatient services. This is a far cry from what us City folk have been experiencing - 5 hour waits ( if your lucky ) at UHW A&E, with even longer waiting times for those who have been diagnosed as in need of hospital inpatient treatment. I've been a trolley-dweller at both hospitals and it's impossible to say which is worse. I mean to say, what is the point of someone ill being rushed in a 'Blue Light' ambulance to a hospital when you cannot get treatment or a bed ? It's got so that, when my GP says I should go in for assessment, I say that I'd rather take my chances staying in my flat. At least I can get a cup of tea when I want and use the 'Powder Room' whenever I feel the urge. Most importantly, the chances of my getting an MRSA. or C-Diff. infection are non existent. Also, my GP knows what's wrong with me, so I don't have go through Triage like an illegal immigrant, as my doctors don't have to wait 3 or 4 hours for my file ( which is huge ). However, I can't complain about the Outpatient Services, because I use them regularly, and the girls might take revenge on me at my next visit. No, outpatient services are pretty good.
Aneurin Bevan set the National Health Service up to provide healthcare at the point of need. Now, the people in Llanelli will have to travel 70 miles in an ambulance, only to be stuck in a trolley queue that takes no account of the seriosness of your condition. For years now, the Health Boards have been rationalising and centralising our essential services, as though we all lived in a ring with a radius of under 7 miles. Now that the Health Boards have been rationalised ( and a good job too ), we learn that the 7 remaining Boards are all meeting together - NOW - to agree further ways of rationalising and centralising essential services. There won't be any public consultation, and all protests and objections will be ignored ( as per ruddy usual ). In Week in Week Out this, 'meeting of the Boards' was supposed to be in the autumn, but the reality is that all the decisions will have been taken by then with absolutely no consideration to the public and patients in rural areas ( as per ruddy usual ).
I used to envy the people of St David's and their superb health service. Now I feel sorry for them because their service is about to become as bad as us 'locals'. No body answers the questions - "Why do we have to cut these services ?" or "Why isn't there enough money made available to provide proper health care 'at the point of need ?" All we get is lies and over-inflated cost or budget figures as though we are all stupid and can't work out the difference between a mental health unit that cost £7.155m and one ( a tad larger ) that we're asked to believe will cost £90m.
To conclude, I have two friends awaiting surgery at Llandough, only to be told 'There are no beds available for them." They have no idea when their 'planned Admissions' will take place. How is that 'Providing Health Services that are 'fit for purpose' ? When will our government start being honest with us, or Open and Transparent' as Rhodri Morgan promised 13 years ago ? Your guess is as good as mine. Meanwhile, stock up on bandages and leeches - you'll need them ! R.W.