HEALTH chiefs have defended plans to axe services and close community hospitals in the region.
Members of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board approved a raft of proposals at a packed meeting in front of members of the public at OpTIC in St Asaph, on Friday.
Speaking during the meeting Dr Martin Duerden, assistant medical director, said the changes were “clinically-led”.
He said: “These types of decisions are taking place all over the UK. Some of the change is difficult and can be uncomfortable in terms of how we can put them in place.
“The process is clinically led. It is based around very sound ideas around what should happen (in terms of) safety, sustainabilty of services and resources within the system.
“There are some very difficult decisions we need to make. They are highly contentious. Some people will be upset, but whatever decision we make we are not in a position to do nothing.
“Things are changing. Health technology is changing, the population is changing. There’s a general trend to do as much as we can in the community but to centralise specialist services - this creates a balancing act.
“Money is a consideration, but it’s not the only consideration. We have not had a growth in our budget for some time and don’t expect growth for some time yet.
“We have to get things right. Standards are changing and we have to work within strict standards on neonatal care for babies, it would be remiss if we didn’t do that.”
The decision to forge ahead with the plans met with shouted protests and walk-outs from members of the public who attended.
According to the board, the findings of the consultation suggested residents broadly supported proposals to provide more care in the home, but investment is needed if the new service, which has been piloted in Denbighshire, is to roll out across the region.
Board official Geoff Lang said: “We must recognise that the resources to deliver the new model must be unlocked from existing services.”
Members acknowledged the neonatal care issue was “emotive”, but argued the move was necessary to bring remaining services up to the UK standard.
The health board will save £300 per day per intensive care cot transferred to Arrowe Park.
Glan Clwyd Hospital has been designated a hospital “hub” under the changes outlined at the health board meeting.
A minor injuries unit will be provided seven days a week, 8am to 8pm at the Bodelwyddan Hospital while x-ray services will be available at the hospital as well as at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Rhyl.
Inpatient beds at Glan Traeth in Rhyl will move to the new North Denbighshire hospital on the Royal Alexandra site or to Glan Clwyd as part of changes to older people's mental health services.
Arterial surgical services will be consolidated at a single specialist centre in North Wales subject to the appropriate infrastructure.
Glan Clwyd is under consideration as the location for the site due to its central location in North Wales but further assessment will be undertaken prior to confirming the site.
A health watchdog has said it is reviewing the “fine detail’ behind the health shake-up before deciding to call the decision in.
Members of North Wales Community Health Council (CHC) attended the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board meeting on Friday to hear its decisions about proposals to change health services in North Wales.
Chief officer Pat Billingham said: “We know that there has been strong public reaction following Friday’s meeting, however the CHC must now carefully consider a number of factors to see if the health board’s decisions are an efficient use of money; are based on clear and acceptable evaluations of its financial, workforce and service implications and that these will provide the basis for maintaining and developing good services in the future.
“In short, the CHC needs to be confident that the board’s decisions are in the interests of people who use health services and the health service itself.
“The CHC will assess the fine detail behind all of these decisions before it can say if a formal objection needs to be raised.”