An unusually full public gallery at the Council Chamber in Clydach on 28th October saw Alison Williams, Chief Executive of Cwm Taf Health Board, tell RCT Councillors she wanted to give “full reassurance regarding the future of A&E and Minor Injury Units.”
She said that the closure of the Minor Injuries Unit at Cwm Rhondda hospital is not about the ‘rot setting in’ or about taking services away from the area, and went on to give categorical reassurance that A&E services at the Royal Glamorgan will not disappear.
Yet as well as causing problems for residents in the Rhondda who now have to travel further for treatment for non urgent or non life threatening injuries this is bound to have knock on effects for patients at A&E. The Royal Glamorgan is busy enough at the best of time – it will now have to cope with the extra influx of patients with minor injuries who have nowhere else to obtain treatment.
The closure of the MIU is temporary so they say – but they said that about the downgrading if the SCUBU unit at the Royal Glamorgan. That has now become permanent. That also was about a shortage of suitably qualified staff.
Ms Williams stated clearly that “This is not about money. No matter how much money I have I cannot employ doctors and nurses that are not there.” She said they cannot keep using a ‘sticking plaster’ to address the problems but need sustainable solutions.
This is a story that is echoed throughout Wales. So where have the health boards been – and what has the Health Minister been up to all this time? This problem hasn’t suddenly appeared out of nowhere. It takes years to train doctors and specialist nurses – this should have been addressed earlier.
Labour are fond of blaming everything on the Westminster Government. Well let’s be clear. Health is a devolved matter. In Wales it is the responsibility of the Welsh Government – the Labour Government. It is not about money – Ms Williams made that very clear. It is about lack of adequate planning and management.