Saturday, 17 March 2012

Mid Wales goes to Cardiff - the truth about the health protest

I wanted to blog about the amazing protest which took place last month outside the Senedd about the threat to health services in Mid Wales and Bronglais Hospital in particular. I can think of no better way of telling the story than cutting and pasting Jack Evershed's speech from that day. Jack is one of the founder members of the aBer - Achub Bronglais Emergency Rescue - Group.

What follows is an extract from the aBer Group's own recently launched website. If you want to know the truth about what's really happeing in relation to health services in Mid Wales, make it one of your favourites:

On Wednesday 29 February, over 700 campaigners from Mid Wales descended on Cardiff to voice their concerns about the future of Bronglais Hospital.

Jack Evershed, of the aBer group, gave the following speech:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you all for making the tremendous effort to get here today. I know there are people representing a huge number of local communities across Mid Wales. I have had the privilege of meeting and talking to many of you in our meetings across our area. Today is the result of our dismay at the inappropriate planning of health services for us and anger at our complete disenfranchisement in that process. For example very many people canvassed for the original and comprehensive Front of House development at Bronglais rather than the current impoverished and inadequate porch being built. We are customers of three different Health Boards but only one District General Hospital- Bronglais. It appears to be beyond the imagination or capability of Hywel Dda Health Board to run Bronglais in a way that caters to our needs. Bronglais needs to be managed in a dynamic and innovative way, not by adopting easy or convenient standardised models. So we are here today with a simple message to the people working within this building who are in a position to facilitate such management.

We, the people of Mid Wales have a moral, ethical and legal right to the same level of health care as anyone else in Wales. One look at the maps displayed here today will show that if the degradation of services at Bronglais is not reversed then the people within these walls cannot meet their duty to prevent the violation of that right.

We demand that our Minister protect Bronglais from its continuing death by a thousand cuts and urgently finds a way to provide appropriate management for Bronglais that is responsive to, and responsible for, its entire catchment population.

It goes without saying that Jack's speech really hits the nail on the head about how we who live in this neck of the woods all feel about the importance of Bronglais to our communities. We really cannot travel for 90 minutes to receive emergency abdominal surgery. That is not a reasonable request in anyone's book and most of us wouldn't actually make it anyway!

This is a debate about ensuring basic human rights and that people who choose to live in rural areas are not treated as second class citizens.
The Welsh Labour Government needs to understand that just like the people who live in Mid Wales, this is a debate which is not going to go away!