(Title Image: Ifan Huw Dafydd via Twitter)
The Motion (Amended/Final Version)
- Recognises a cross-party statement on the Future of Safe Emergency Care in Cwm Taf Morgannwg.
- Recognises the need for Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board (CTM) to act with openness and transparency when deciding on future A&E services and also recognises that unscheduled care must be robust, safe and sustainable.
- Supports a permanent and fully-resourced A&E department at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital and rejects proposals by CTM to end 24-hour consultant-led A&E services at the hospital.
- Calls on the health board to: rule out the closure of the A&E service or replacing it with with a 24-hour minor injuries unit; reinstate the option of maintaining full consultant-led A&E service at the Royal Glamorgan, Prince Charles and Princess of Wales hospitals; bring forward other proposals for community health services, including improvements in the out-of-hours GP service and extending the opening hours of the minor injuries unit at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda and Ysbyty Cwm Cynon.
“Labour….presides over a policy of closing an A&E in one of the most deprived areas in Wales”
While most of the debate was framed around the Royal Glamorgan A&E issue, Shadow Health Minister, Angela Burns AM (Con, Carms. W. & S. Pembs.), listed several statistics which showed how under strain emergency departments were across the country. While winter is seen as a particularly difficult time, this was becoming a year-round issue.
“It is a fact that attendance at emergency departments has only grown by 7.4%, yet in the same time period, eight-hour waits have gone up by 254%. And, the Welsh Government’s data has come up trumps because we know that since 2013….the number of people waiting for 12 hours or more has gone up by a staggering 318%.”
– Shadow Health Minister, Angela Burns AM
Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda) said the Labour Welsh Government is set to close an A&E department in one of the most deprived areas of Wales; Sheffield University research has shown that every 10km travel to an A&E department increases the risk of death by 1%. She believed plans to downgrade services become a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby consultants avoid working at a hospital where services are under threat. Amongst the solutions put forward was offering agency staff full-time employment.
Neil McEvoy AM (Ind, South Wales Central) recently saw for himself overcrowding at A&E departments and wants to declare a health emergency. Mick Antoniw AM (Lab, Pontypridd) said recruitment wasn’t at the heart of the problem, but the South Wales Programme is now massively out of date and irrelevant due to population changes in the area.
RGH A&E “performs well” compared to the rest of Wales
Suzy Davies AM (Con, South Wales West) said the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend – where most of the RGH’s A&E patients would be redirected to – is itself under pressure and unlikely to cope due to delayed transfers of care/bed-blocking which means it takes longer to move patients from A&E to other wards.
“Closure simply doesn’t make sense. For example, during 2019, the A&E service at the Royal Glamorgan was attended by nearly 64,000 people. That’s over 2,000 more than Prince Charles Hospital, and 4,500 more than the Princess of Wales. While it would be iniquitous to pit one hospital against another, it is only fair to recognise that the Royal Glamorgan has the busiest A&E department in Cwm Taf Morgannwg, and it also performs extremely well….Royal Glamorgan Hospital’s A&E consistently records the highest percentage of patients being seen within less than the target waiting times. “
– Vikki Howells AM (Lab, Cynon Valley)
Nick Ramsay AM (Con, Monmouth) said people can be on board to change but only when it’s properly sold to them, like the Clinical Futures Programme in the Aneurin Bevan Health Board (Gwent).
Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West) called on the Health Minister to be brave enough to challenge the information presented to him and make an intervention – as the Welsh Government previously did for neonatal services at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.
“You can’t expect me to intervene….to try and run an unsafe service”
Health Minister, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth), said while the protest outside the Senedd yesterday underlined the value the public place on the NHS, a professional judgement call on the future of A&E services had to be made and AMs couldn’t expect him to intervene in order to continue to run what could end up being an unsafe service.
While there was a recruitment drive underway, that will take several years to filter through and, ultimately, there were no quick fixes:
For the record, Carwyn Jones AM (Lab, Bridgend) voted against. The Health Minister said during the debate the government would vote against the unamended motion, but as the government amendments were approved, they abstained instead.