Dave Reid, Socialist Party Wales
The struggle to retain a permanent, consultant-led, 24/7 A&E at Royal Glamorgan hospital has entered a new, important phase.
Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board executives had previously announced that only two ‘minor injuries’ options for the hospital were on the table. But now they’ve given verbal assurances they intend to restore the A&E.
This concession follows a huge community campaign in Rhondda Cynon Taff. Thousands of working-class people have thrown themselves into the defence of their hospital. Hospital workers, doctors, nurses and patient groups have participated.
Communities across the Rhondda valleys are festooned with the orange bows of the campaign. Nearly 1,000 hospital workers have signed the petition by Unite the Union.
Over 500 rallied mid-week on 27 February. They wanted the Welsh Assembly to pass a motion in support of the A&E, in defiance of the first minister and health minister.
Another 500 massed outside the health board meeting. Over 100 poured into the meeting itself.
Victory is within our grasp.
The floods have caused over £100 million damage in the area. But they have not dampened the mood, they have intensified the anger!
The health board rally took place in the shadow of a landslide that ran down a nearby coal tip. The threat posed by the hundreds of tips in the borough has reminded people of the Aberfan disaster and the fighting traditions of the mining communities our area inherited.
The health board says it can’t retain an A&E at Royal Glam because the last remaining consultant is retiring in April. It has advertised to fill the post, but claims that there have been no applicants. But who would apply for a post that is disappearing?
The Welsh government and health board must withdraw the South Wales Programme of cuts and support the permanent retention of A&E at Royal Glam. The verbal assurance by the health board must be made certain – added as an option in the consultation and adopted by the board.
The A&E should be kept open while the consultant’s position is filled, using temporary locums and consultants from the other A&Es. Royal Glam A&E must not close, even temporarily.
Just one consultant is not sufficient. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine recommends ten consultants should available for each A&E. The health board should start a sustained recruitment campaign to bring the A&E up to the full compliment.
A glorious victory for the Royal Glamorgan campaign and for people power is entirely possible now. But the pressure must be stepped up – more rallies and marches.