Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Healthcare reorganisation of community hospitals

Yesterday I was at two BETSI meetings held in Flint, and I was there to see the local people of Flint who had come out to support their Community Hospital.  I have also been at meetings in Colwyn Bay, Prestatyn and Rhyl.  Rhyl has already seen the closure of the Alex Hospital.  Prestatyn, Flint and Colwyn Bay are facing closure of their community hospitals, with services being concentrated at other sites accross North Wales.  The Health Board is promising what it calls "Home Enhanced Care" which will allow greater investment in care at home accross North Wales.  The figures last night were that it costs abouts £924,000 to keep Flint Community Hospital open, with the hospital having a 160 in patient addmissions over the course of the year.  The Health Board are arguing that they need to provide a greater consistency of care accross North Wales.  The problem is that 5 years ago, when there was a raft of closures of community hospitals accross North Wales improvements in care were offered, and the argument then was that better care would be offered in the home. People are just not convinced that they are going to see those improvements.  Aligned with this are proposals to move level 3 neonatal intensive care to Arrowe Park in Liverpool.  I have blogged about these proposals in earlier posts.  I have raised with the Health Board the statistics which show that infant mortality in Anglesey is 6.7 and Denbighshire is 7 when the Welsh Average is 4.3, the fact that the Health Board wishes to move neonatal intensive care should be a wake up call, as it will mean the downgrading of services at Glan Clwyd, and the loss of specialist Doctors who have experience with the smallest of babies, who can not talk and tell Doctors what is wrong with them.  This is likely to mean the loss of 5 Senior House Officer Doctors.  What can you do?  Get involved, respond to the consultation email the Health Board at jointhedebate@wales.nhs.uk  if you dont fight to retain local services, you will loose them.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Betsi Consultation on Intensive Care for Babies. What they dont know

The Betsi Health Board have launched their consultation.  I sat in on two of their meetings today in Rhyl and was really concerned about their approach to Neo Natal intensive care services.  This is called a "level 3" service.  The proposal is to move the beds to Arrowe Park in Liverpool.  This will mean a massive journey for patients from the more rural parts of  North Wales and the more Western part of North Wales, with the possibility that mothers will be seperated from their babies, if they are not well enough to travel.  Not only that, but it will also mean that parents will potentially be seperated from their existing children.  What was not clear was that Arrowe Park is in fact in a position to offer better care.  It appears that Glan Clwyd has one on one nursing with special intensive care babies, Arrowe Park does not.  Arrowe Park does have more consultants, but it doesnt seem to have the 5 Senior House Officer Doctors that are present at Glan Clwyd.  Furthermore what Betsi has not told the public is that if the level three service moves, so will the ability to train the Senior House Officer Doctors.

Betsi knew that the Deanery (responsible for decisions on training) have said that this will happen.  What does it mean for the public in North Wales, it means a downgrading of the maternity services available, it means that Betsi's sums are wrong on the savings that they will make, as they will need to employ additional consultants or non SHO Doctors, and it will mean a key service being shut down in North Wales.  Get involved with the consultation.  Write to me with your objections and I will pass it on as to retain the service it will need public support.  More worryingly, the answers given in the earlier meeting were not the same as in the later meeting, I have got that on the record and will be submitting FOI's to Arrowe Park, as clearly Betsi dont know the current level of cover, or arrangements because they are having to check them after parents from the charity Cuddles challenged the Health Board's assertions.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Planning and the Environment

An article on the BBC website indicates that the Welsh Government is going to bring forward new planning rules "next month" http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-19490475 .  John Griffiths the Minister for the "Environment" has a poor record on planning.  Over the last year he has been pushed repeatedly by me and others to permit small scale renewable installations, such as solar panels, and to include them in the permitted development rules.  He has dragged his feet and delayed, which meant that many people were not able to install when the more preferential rates were available.  One development in Deeside worth millions could not go ahead.  So you would think the news might be good news that new rules are coming out.  My concern is that the new rules will be used to drive through highly controversial onshore windfarm developments.  We will wait to see what the new rules say.  Housing developers have clearly indicated why they are not building at the moment, rules on the environmental standards are the toughest in the UK and that combined with new fire sprinkler requirements are what are holding back developments in North Wales at the moment. If Griffiths wants to kick start the housing sector, then it will be interesting to see if those issues are addressed. 

Labour's economic failure

A recent lecture by Peter Watcyn Jones from Eversheds at the Eisteddfod illustrates dramatically Labour's economic failure in Wales.  Here is an extract of what he said

The report's main message is that Wales, since the mid-90's, has seen a serious economic deterioration, to such an extent that Wales is now at the bottom of the economic table in terms of prosperity and wealth. There is a gap, if not chasm, opening up between Welsh economic success and the rest of Britain. The report suggests that each individual in Wales is £1,850 poorer than their counterparts in England – referred to in the report as "Offa's Gap". It notes that the financial services sector is becoming increasingly centred on London, leaving Wales all the poorer. It suggests that Wales imports far too much, and the famous economist A P Thirwal is quoted as suggesting that long-term growth depends on exports rather than imports. Is this principle also valid when considering the export of talent as well as goods? "

He then went onto say

"When undertaking my budget review, I noted the analysis in "Offa's Gap" with regard to the dearth of large private limited companies in Wales which would be likely to use Welsh lawyers for their work. My understanding is that there are only 16 such companies with an office or base in Wales. Of those, seven are in Cardiff or Newport, two in Ewloe, one or two in Swansea, one on Anglesey, another three in North Wales and one in Chester – possibly on the other side of the Welsh border anyway! The annual reports of these PLCs suggest that only three are represented by Welsh law firms."

Both those points, dramatically and clearly illustrate Labour's economic failure in Wales.  Labour has to raise its game on the economy in Wales, we have seen a consistent jobs flight from the private sector, over the border into England.  Sadly I think this will continue for as long as Labour remains in power in Wales