South Wales health proposals

Gazette Column – 4th October

Image of the Gazette column
Image of the Gazette column

I thought this week I’d talk about the document issued last week on the future shape of the health service in South Wales. It’s an open and honest document which outlines the challenges we face in the future. It seeks to create a better, safer health service for everybody but recognises that we face two challenges.

The first is recruiting enough doctors. There’s particular shortage of A & E doctors across the UK, and we must avoid a situation which might lead to there being not enough cover in A & E department which leads to doctors being asked to do things that they don’t have enough experience of.

Secondly, the body that is responsible for doctors’ training has become much stricter on where doctors can be trained. They take the view, rightly, I think, that doctors need to be trained where there are enough senior doctors to train them and where they can get a broad experiences of different injuries and illnesses. Poorly trained doctors would lead to bad outcomes for patients. That’s why A & E departments have tended to get bigger and become concentrated in fewer places.

What this means for the POW hospital isn’t clear yet. The document mentions hospitals having A & E departments, local accident centres or minor injuries units but doesn’t actually tell people what they all mean. Also, it’s not clear whether all hospitals would continue to have full 24 hour cover.

There’s no prospect of having to travel to Merthyr for emergency treatment, that I can assure people. It’s not about money either. There will be some politicians who will claim that £500 million can be picked out of a hat somewhere and this will solve everything. That money doesn’t exist, and besides, that won’t help to find doctors out of thin air.

I live in this town, and the Princess is my local hospital. Its future is important to me and to everyone reading this. Together with my colleague Janice Gregory we’ll be monitoring the situation closely to ensure a good safe health service.