Tories raise Haverfordwest hospital fears

Part closures at Withybush’s A&E department and the writing off of £40 million worth of debt owed by the local health trust may be a worrying sign of things to come, say local Conservative politicians.

Health bosses have revealed that the casualty department at the Haverfordwest hospital may have to divert trauma patients overnight to other hospitals due to staff shortages.

Welsh Health Minister Edwina Hart has also decided to write off a £40 million debt racked up by the predecessors of the Hywel Dda NHS Trust.

She had agreed that if the new trust could balance its budget in its first year then the new Hywel Dda Local Health Board would have its historic debt written off.

But local AMs are worried that shrinking health budgets mean this could just be the start of more closures and more debt.

“I am extremely concerned to hear that trauma patients may have to be treated elsewhere if these staff shortages can’t be overcome,” said South Pembrokeshire AM Angela Burns.

“The outgoing Trust director has told me they are short of six junior doctors and a large part of the problem is new recruits saying they will come and then changing their minds at the last minute.

“However, the Trust knew this problem was brewing so I am concerned that more wasn’t done to nip it in the bud.

“I also believe that at the root of a lot of these problems is the lack of on-call care from GPs.

“I will be raising the whole issue with Welsh Health Minister Edwina Hart in the Assembly and keeping a very close eye on the whole situation.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies added: “We have both been contacted by people who have experienced long delays in treatments at Casualty so we knew that staff shortages were having a serious effect on patient care.

“I also have major concerns about the out-of-hours GP service for Pembrokeshire which has been centralised at Withybush. It seems that at times there is insufficient cover and I am worried that this service could now also be under threat.

“The new health board may be starting life debt-free but how long will that last given the shortage of money in the NHS?

“It is facing a £200 million deficit and tighter funding in future years and because of shrinking Assembly budgets it can only be a matter of time before they run out of money once again.”

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