AN MS HAS voiced his frustration after the health minister admitted that the plan to build a new community hospital in Rhyl could be scrapped.

Llyr Gruffydd who represents North Wales in the Senedd, has accused the Welsh Government of “preparing the ground to break its promise” to residents to build the North Denbighshire Community Hospital.

The Plaid Cymru politician pressed Eluned Morgan on whether the hospital would actually be built, during a recent debate in the Senedd.

In response the Welsh Government minister said it was up to Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) to decide whether it wanted to build the community hospital or a new orthopaedic centre in North Wales.

The minister suggested that the orthopaedic centre should be prioritised because of a high waiting list for treatment, but added that it was ultimately up to the health board to decide.

Plans for a new hospital, on the former Royal Alexandra site in Rhyl, were revealed in 2013.

The proposal for the new hospital included community beds, a same day minor injuries and illness service, a treatment zone, outpatient therapy services, sexual health, community dental, radiology, adult psychology and mental health services.

The project has been beset by delay, and since it was announced, the estimated cost has ballooned from £22m to around £80m.

The former chief executive of BCUHB, Jo Whitehead, subsequently claimed that work on the hospital was set to begin no later than December 3, 2021, subject to the necessary funding being released by the Welsh Government.

Mr Gruffydd told the Senedd: “The Royal Alexandra Hospital in Rhyl was closed in 2009, with a pledge that it would be redeveloped. Indeed, community hospitals were closed on the back of that pledge to redevelop the Royal Alex.

"There was a business case in 2021, which highlighted the need to redevelop it. Fourteen years later, we are still waiting for that to happen.

"The health board is waiting for the Government to confirm whether funding will be available, the county council, which discussed this recently, is still waiting, and residents and patients in the north are still waiting.

“Now, in light of the budgetary challenges that you have outlined to us, you can answer one of two questions - you can choose which one to answer.

“Either you can tell us when we will see the redevelopment of the Royal Alex in Rhyl, or perhaps you would prefer to tell us whether we will ever see the redevelopment of the Royal Alex in Rhyl?”

Eluned Morgan replied: “There needs to be a decision on this; there needs to be a prioritisation. Now, it's going to be difficult for the health board to prioritise.

“I'm very keen, for example, to see an improvement in the numbers that receive orthopaedic treatment in North Wales - the waiting lists are too long. And so, there will be a need to weigh up whether you want a new orthopaedic centre or the redevelopment of the Royal Alex.

“I don't think that's a decision for me; I think it's a decision that the board has to weigh up in terms of what the most important thing is at present.”

Speaking after the debate in the Senedd, Mr Gruffydd said: “The Health Minister has effectively admitted that the North Denbighshire Community Hospital in Rhyl might not be built after all.

“The Welsh Government promised the people of the area that they would get this much-needed facility and it’s frustrating to learn that there is enormous doubt whether the project will now go ahead.

"It very much looks like the Welsh Government is preparing the ground to break its promise and lay all of the blame at the door of the health board.

"It should be remembered that this project was originally announced over a decade ago.

"Patients in Rhyl, Prestatyn and the surrounding areas will understandably be hugely concerned that they will not get what they were promised.

“They are in desperate need of new health facilities, as well as the regeneration that would come with the investment in a project like this.

“Dither and delay by BCUHB and the Welsh Government is unacceptable because the proposal will become increasingly expensive with costs already having nearly quadrupled from £22m since it was announced to around £80m.

“Had they moved quicker, not only would the local community have the health services it’s crying out for, but it also would have been much more affordable for the taxpayer.

"While it is certainly the case that waiting times for orthopaedic treatment need to be tackled, the Welsh Government shouldn’t have got itself into a position where it was forcing the health board to choose between that and building the North Denbighshire Community Hospital.”


BCUHB interim CEO Carol Shillabeer has said the health board is having to reassess the redevelopment due to inflation.

She said in September: "With regard to the Royal Alexandra Hospital specifically, it’s clear the building, whilst highly valued, is aged and needs considerable work.

“With increased costs for supplies and materials, the original quotes for refurbishment and development have increased. This means we will have to look again at how we invest in the site.

“We are doing that, and we are committed to working with partners to find a positive way forward.

“The size of any investment will depend on which way we decide to go and what the competing priorities are.”