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Pontypridd and Rhondda NHS Trust's Margaret Foster
"The patients will be there a minimum of two years."
 real 28k

Jeff Baker, Unison
"It is a great pity there is still uncertainty on when the service will move"
 real 28k

Friday, 3 December, 1999, 18:20 GMT
Mentally ill patients left at closed hospital
East Glamorgan Hospital There are fears patients at East Glamorgan Hospital may feel isolated

Seventy mentally ill patients are to remain at the psychiatric unit of a now-closed south Wales hospital for at least two years.

Most services have now moved from East Glamorgan Hospital near Pontypridd to the new 103.5m Royal Glamorgan Hospital a few miles away.

But the NHS Trust responsible said there is nowhere else for the patients to go and that a new unit would not be ready quickly.

The delay has prompted criticism from a health union official, who said the delays had been pointed out two years ago.

Royal Glamorgan Hospital Most services have moved to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital
The mental health unit chaplain, Reverend Mary Coates, said the patients used to be able to go to the hospital coffee bar and shop but these have closed as well.

She said there is nothing for the patients to do at the site and fears they may feel cut off.

"I think this situation will have an impact on the staff and patients who are there in this interim period," said Mrs Coates.

Jeff Baker of the public services union Unison said concerns had been expressed about the situation as long as two years ago.

"It is a great pity that there is still uncertainty about when the main service will be moved down to the new hospital," he said.

Taff Ely and Rhondda Community Health Council's Clive Barnby said he was unhappy the mental health unit had been left behind at the site.

He said the isolation was not good for either patients or staff.

But he added that the community health council was optimistic money would be made available to move the unit to a purpose-built site.


We have bent over backwards to make sure they have lots of support from us
NHS trust chief executive Margaret Foster
Pontypridd and Rhondda NHS Trust chief executive Margaret Foster said the situation was not ideal but the trust had been caught out by the NHS funding crisis.

"We have improved staffing and security at the site," said Ms Foster.

"We have to wait and see whether the Assembly can make the funds available to build a new unit at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital."

She said even if the project was given the go ahead immediately it would take at least two years to complete.

"We have bent over backwards to make sure the unit has lots of support from us," she added.

Assembly health secretary Jane Hutt said she would do everything possible to push the project through.

"As far as I'm concerned this is a major priority," she said.

Health workers' union Unison is calling for the Assembly to come up with cash for the new unit as soon as possible.

Teething problems

It is concerned about the safety of its members at the East Glamorgan site.

It is demanding 24-hour security cover at the hospital and says lighting must be improved.

It has also emerged that the new Royal Glamorgan Hospital is suffering teething problems.

A fault with drainage in the mortuary means sandbags are having to be used to stop waste overspilling into a nearby corridor.

Items including a gas cooker are also reported to have been stolen.

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See also:
27 Nov 99 |  Wales
Historic hospital hands over to new site

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