THE door is "anything but closed" when it comes to creating a new community hospital in Rhyl but it will look different to what was first proposed more than 10 years ago. 

That is according to Wales' outgoing first minister Mark Drakeford who admitted in an exclusive interview with Coastal Chief Reporter Suzanne Kendrick he was "disappointed" the North Denbighshire Community Hospital, on the Royal Alexandra site, wasn't built under his leadership. 

Mr Drakeford, who will stand down as Welsh Labour leader in March 2024, hopes the development will have moved forward by the next Senedd election, held in or before May 2026.

He said the door is closed to original plans, which he described as "simply unaffordable".

Mr Drakeford said: "The door is anything but closed [on the North Denbighshire Community Hospital], the door is definitely open - not to the original plan, but to the new plan which will still serve as an interface between people who use the health service but also social care, caring in their own homes."

Plans for the hospital in Rhyl were revealed in 2013.

Proposals 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 delays since the estimated cost ballooned from £22m to around £80m. The project remains frozen; it is awaiting Welsh Government approval and the allocation of funds.

In January, the Journal revealed that Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) was looking at viable options for the development. 

Mr Drakeford, who spoke with the Journal when opening the Engineering Centre at Coleg Llandrillo’s campus in Rhyl, said: "I am disappointed that we have seen so many delays along the way. I remember going to the Royal Alexandra Hospital some years ago now.

"I'm afraid that the tooth of the matter is that the plan, that the local health board started with, is simply unaffordable. It started with one sum of money and ended up with a much much bigger investment needed but that doesn't mean that we [the Welsh Government] or BCUHB have given up on using that site for the future.

"There has been a re-think, a very productive discussion with the local authority because we need that site to be at the interface of health and social care. So there is a new plan, it is quite well on in its development, we expect to see it at the Welsh Government in the next few months and I am hoping now there will be something which is both really important to the local community and is affordable in the very tough times we live in."

He added: "I certainly hope we would have gone some way [by the next Senedd election]. By then, people will see not only a plan but the physical changes that will secure the future of that building, a very important building, quite a difficult building in terms of its listed status and the history behind it.

"Nevertheless, I understand the significance of the building to the people who live locally and I very much hope by the end of the Senedd term, people will see the future."