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Prince Philip Hospital Llanelli: We can defeat cuts plans
Rob Owen, Socialist Party Wales
The proposals for Prince Philip Hospital (PPH) are scandalous. The closure of the Accident and Emergency unit in Llanelli, south west Wales, will mean patients having to travel to Carmarthen, Swansea or even Haverfordwest. It will mean journeys of at least 45 minutes to one hour. People will die. Many will pass PPH on their way!
Already doctors have revealed how patients requiring urgent treatment have been left waiting overnight at PPH because no beds were available at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen. If the proposals for PPH are carried out, the situation will get worse.
Yet, the Hywel Dda Health Trust claims the vast majority of patients should be cared for closer to home! This is the Trust which has appointed Sir Jonathan Asbridge, of Rochdale Primary Care Trust, at £1,000 a day to oversee these changes.
At Rochdale, both he and Hywel Dda's current chief executive Trevor Purt, pushed through controversial plans which led to Rochdale Infirmary A&E being closed and replaced by an urgent care centre last April. This mirrors the current proposal for Llanelli.
Only last week senior medical staff at Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth sent a letter of "no confidence" in the Trust to the Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths, among others, stating they do not believe the board is committed to delivering services locally and that its plans are contrary to those agreed with medical staff. Pressure is mounting to reject the Health Trust's proposals. The people of Llanelli have to defeat these proposals, which were given the go-ahead by Welsh Labour's plans for the NHS here, and the fightback is mounting.
Demonstrations, petitions and meetings have flooded the area. The march and rally organised by Llanelli trades council can galvanize the strength of feeling in the area. The sense of anger and outrage must not be allowed to dissipate.
A united campaign of all those opposed to health service cuts must be built, involving health trade unions, patients, anti-cuts groups and health professionals to defend Prince Philip Hospital. These proposals are only the thin end of the wedge and could lead to the complete break up of the NHS in Wales.
The battle to defend the NHS is also part of the wider fight to oppose all cuts, defend pensions, and oppose job losses in the public and private sectors.
The Socialist Party Wales is committed to building a united opposition to the rotten health boards, councils and governments that tell working people there is no alternative, but to accept cuts. We call on the Welsh Assembly government, both Labour and Plaid Cymru, to refuse to implement cuts and instead introduce a "needs budget," which will protect jobs and services in the interests of service users and staff.
This is our NHS and we are not going to let it be sacrificed in the interests of the bankers or the system they represent.