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Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Published at 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK

UK: Wales

Hutt welcomes hospital bed cuts plan

People in mid Wales have been campaigning against hospital closures

Welsh Health Secretary Jane Hutt has welcomed a controversial review of community hospitals in mid Wales which recommends cutting bed numbers.

The proposed cuts by Dyfed Powys Health Authority would be made to avoid having to close any of the region's 10 hospitals.

BBC Wales's Steve Jones reports on plans to cut up to 100 beds
Some of the units in Powys have been threatened with closure in the face of a huge budget deficit.

Health officials were meeting behind closed doors to consider the plans.

A campaign opposing any hospital closures in rural Powys has been going on since the health authority warned some may have to close in order to save money.

[ image: It is hoped Llanidloes hospital can be kept open]
It is hoped Llanidloes hospital can be kept open
But confidential plans by the health trust propose keeping open all 10 hospitals, such as Llanidloes, but at the cost of losing between 80 and 100 beds, at a saving of £1.5m.

Campaigners said they were relieved the hospitals would stay open but feared the savings estimates are "over optimistic" and were concerned that specialist services will suffer.

Meanwhile, residents pressing for out-of-hours ambulance cover in mid Wales were to present a petition to the health authority during the meeting.

The authority was offering to cut delays by funding 24-hour cover at Newtown and Welshpool, but petitioners said more cover was also needed at the two main rural stations in Llanfyllin and Llanidloes.

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