I was struck by the words of Sir Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary, who, speaking at a meeting of Cardiff Business Club last evening said:
‘The best policy is evidence based policy’.
Makes complete sense I thought…..
I wish the Hywel Dda Health Board and the Welsh Labour Government Health Minister would take note.
Here are some ‘evidence-based’ facts for them to consider which I hope will explain why Bronglais Hospital, Aberystwyth - (the only District General Hospital serving Mid Wales) - must not have surgical and obstetric services cut back anymore.
· Taking away colo-rectal surgery will mean that it will be nigh on impossible to attract skilled abdominal surgeons to Bronglais.
· If you cannot attract skilled abdominal surgeons to Bronglais, then it is unlikely that you will be able to carry out emergency surgery there.
· If you cannot offer emergency surgery, then you might as well close down A & E.
· Whilst new day surgery theatres are proposed, it isn’t possible to do ‘big’ surgery in day theatres.
· The number of surgical, gynaecological and orthopaedic beds at Bronglais has dropped by 50 per cent over the past eight years.
· There has been research carried out into similar hospitals in Scotland (Dumfries and Galloway) where they have 69 surgical beds, whereas Bronglais has around 35 and that number is diminishing.
· It is very difficult to attract good general surgeons without the right number of surgical beds.
· Last year alone, 739 operations were cancelled at the hospital and obviously, behind everyone one of these cancellations is a human story.
· Bronglais covers a catchment area of 150,000, swelling to around 200,000 in the summer when tourists visit the area.
· There is only one cardiologist at Bronglais.
· Glangwili Carmarthen Hospital covers a catchment of 170,000 people but has five cardiologists.
· People I have spoken to from Southern Meirionnydd, western Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire - (the catchment area which Bronglais serves), as well as Aberystwyth and Ceredigion, are horrified that expectant mums with anticipated need of a Caesarean might have to travel to Carmarthen for that surgery – a journey of approx. one hour and fifteen minutes by road from Aberystwyth – and two and a half hours from either Tywyn or Llanidloes!
Finally, looking at the map above of the location of District General Hospitals in Wales, it isn’t rocket science to see why Bronglais is so essential to the people of Mid Wales. Services here should be ramped up, not scaled down.
· Geography is the very reason why services at Bronglais (Mid Wales General Hospital) must be protected.