New Emergency Service in Shrewsbury
The decision by the UK Government to approve plans to build a new emergency (A&E) service in Shrewsbury was welcome and comes after years of debate and campaigning over Shropshire’s hospital services. There will be £300 million in world class critical and emergency care now being invested in Shrewsbury. This will now mean that the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital will become a new Emergency Care centre and The Princess Royal Hospital in Telford will become a Planned Care centre with a 24-hour Urgent Care centre at both hospitals.
This will be positive for us in Mid Wales as not only will we see life-saving emergency healthcare located in Shrewsbury, a more significant service than a standard A&E with the large investment that comes with it, but we will also see the return of the women and children’s consultant-led inpatient service return to Shrewsbury.
It is also essential that some planned care is delivered locally in our local community hospitals to prevent the need to travel out of county to see a consultant. This decision is a milestone which marks the point where the Shrewsbury & Telford Hospitals Trust has begun to confront its challenges and makes the necessary reforms which will allow it to attract top class consultants and clinicians. It is reassuring that despite the timetable being affected by COVID-19, there is still the firm commitment for building works to commence at the Shrewsbury site.
New Mid Wales Health Facility
I have again recently raised a potential new Health facility to be built in Newtown with the First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS. I have been raising the need for a new health facility in our area with the previous and current First Minister of Wales. Powys Teaching Health Board has recently submitted plans for a new facility with the Welsh Government. If the Welsh Government approves the proposal, we could see a cutting edge, state of the art health and care facility in mid Wales, which would offer more services locally.
The new facility would also improve health and wellbeing services in our area, with enhanced health checks and appointments being offered locally, rather than having to travel out of county. The new centre which would be located in Newtown, should work with the current network of community hospitals in Machynlleth, Llanidloes and Welshpool and district general hospitals around our borders, to ensure we receive the right treatment much closer to home.
My hope is that even before this facility is built, the proposals will attract more health professionals to move to our area. The fact that the Health Board has recently submitted the proposals is a massive step forward in the campaign for improved health facilities in our area. When I raised the proposals in December with the First Minister, I was pleased that he indicated his support for this new health facility and project. Clearly, I hope whoever forms the next Welsh Government after May will give the green light to the plans.
Bro Ddyfi Community Hospital
I am pleased that the redevelopment of the hospital remains a key priority for Powys Teaching Health Board. The health board has informed me that the scheme will offer an exciting opportunity to establish Bro Ddyfi Community Hospital as an integrated health and well-being facility for the local community. It will provide a base for health, local authority and third sector teams that will help these teams to work together in a community ‘hub’ that improves access to health and social care, wellbeing, prevention, and health promotion facilities for Machynlleth and the Dyfi Valley.
Following full planning permission, the Health Board began work on updating their Full Business Case for re-submission to Welsh Government, as well as on a revised application for Conservation Area Consent to reflect the planning permission condition for the additional junction and highways work. The Health Board and their commercial partners have faced a significant impact from Coronavirus, which has in turn affected the progress on redevelopment of Bro Ddyfi Community Hospital. I am pleased to note Welsh Government are now in the final phase of scrutinising which includes questions and clarifications of the Submitted Business Programme.
Our local Health Board aim to begin building on site later this year.
Welsh Ambulance Service
I would like to see the Welsh Government provide additional resources to the Wales Ambulance Service NHS Trust in Powys to ensure that patients suffering from serious medical conditions, including strokes are not put at risk of unnecessary harm. Ambulance staff work extremely hard, providing outstanding support, often in difficult circumstances to deliver the best possible care to patients but they are simply not receiving adequate resources from the Welsh Government to do their job effectively.
Reports that those in Powys with serious medical conditions, such as strokes are waiting to long for a response to an Amber code ambulance call because of the lack of ambulance response time targets in Wales for this category of medical condition underlines the importance of the need for additional resources to be provided by the Welsh Government - both in terms of the number of ambulances on the road here in Mid Wales but also an increase in the number of paramedics and medical staff.`
The safety of patients is being threatened and I will continue to call on the Welsh Government to listen to expert advice and the calls of deservedly worried members of the public until such time as this very serious issue is addressed and target times for responses to Amber code calls are put in place.