Health board plans formal public consultation on selection of new hospital site – The Pembrokeshire Herald
The HYWEL DDA University Board of Health will decide next week whether to hold a formal public consultation to assist in the site selection of a new and planned urgent care hospital somewhere in the area between and including Narberth and St Clears.
A special meeting of the health board will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday August 4, 2022 and one of the recommendations of the report being discussed, and supported by independent watchdog Hywel Dda Community Health Council, is to hold a consultation process public.
A huge review of five potential sites for the proposed new hospital – one in Narberth, two sites near Whitland and two near St Clears – has already taken place with representatives of the public and patients, clinical and non-clinical staff clinic and stakeholders, including other public sector organisations.
However, campaigners fighting to save Withybush Hospital say the health board has not done enough to engage with the public. They say most people want services to be kept at the current Withybush Hospital site.
Prior to the meeting, Hywel Dda, Director of Strategic Development and Operational Planning, Lee Davies, said, “We are very grateful for the important work that has been done during the evaluation process and this will be presented to the Board of health next week. It will be up to the Board of Directors to determine which sites should receive further review and recommended public consultation, as this is a fundamental part of our service delivery for future generations.
It would be the next step towards the health board’s long-term strategy for a healthier Mid and West Wales. This follows the submission of a business case for the program to the Welsh Government earlier this year, seeking over £1 billion of investment in buildings and capital infrastructure in West Wales.
A fundamental catalyst for investing more in community and preventive health and care, and for addressing long-standing health and care system challenges in the region, is the provision of a new emergency care hospital and planned.
The area, somewhere between and including Narberth and St Clears, is most central to the majority of the southern population and has been determined through engagement, options development and public consultation held between 2017 and 2018.
The Board of Health meeting will hear the results of four separate land assessment groups, individually focusing on the technical, clinical, labor and financial/economic considerations of possible sites and areas within the area.
According to reports, there is currently no “preferred” site as there is a range of different evidence, impacts and viewpoints to consider.
The Technical Evaluation Panel, comprised of a majority of members of the public from all of our localities as well as staff, scored potential sites based on weighted technical criteria and public engagement feedback. Four of the five sites had very similar scores, with only one of the sites near St Clears scoring significantly lower than the others.
Two separate clinical groups – one for neonatology, obstetrics and pediatrics and another for stroke services – examined the implications of locating the new hospital further east, central or further the west in the area.
The Neonatal, Obstetrics and Pediatric Services Expert Panel found that of the three geographical areas in the zone, those furthest east presented the least clinical risk to the services. Workshop participants felt that a site further east outside the Area would be preferable. They were concerned that the area was at risk of a reduced critical mass of patients, due to the potential for people from the east to attend services elsewhere and lead to fewer births and neonatal and pediatric admissions. This was outside the scope of the assessment and the geographical area was agreed upon following engagement and consultation in 2018.
The Expert Panel for Stroke Services said any area of the zone would be appropriate because of the focus on pathways and how patients are treated beyond their initial admission. However, he indicated that for reasons of access to labour, sites in the center or the east would be more preferable.
The workforce assessment focused on the impact on accessibility for the Health Council workforce. The evidence the group reviewed included the analysis of travel time and the impact and potential risks on staffing. The group noted that there would be an impact on those who are traditionally able to work locally from home and on those who reasonably expect to travel due to their profession. Different strategies to reduce this impact would be adopted as the work progresses. The group found it inconclusive whether a site further east would have a greater impact on securing a sustainable workforce overall, including for recruitment.
The financial and economic assessment focused on assessing the process and outcomes that may be required for capital funding and next steps for land acquisition. He found that as a percentage of the overall estimated development costs, there was little distinction between the different sites.
The Board of Health will also receive information on the overall and ongoing evaluation of the impact on equality and health and on how people with protected characteristics are involved and taken into account, as well as on the way whose negative impacts for people will be minimized.
You can watch the meeting live and a link will be available on the Health Council’s website.