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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 March 2007, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Inquiry into Powys health board
Brian Gibbons
GPs met Mr Gibbons last month to raise concerns
An inquiry into how Powys Local Health Board (LHB) is managed has been launched by the Welsh Assembly Government following complaints by GPs.

Local doctors have criticised the LHB's patient safety record, and the way it delivers health care in the county.

GPs met Health Minister Brian Gibbons last month to discuss the board's plans to cut services at four hospitals.

The assembly government released a statement confirming the inquiry. The LHB said it had nothing to add.

The assembly government said the NHS Clinical Governance and Support and Development Unit would carry out the investigation.

The first phase will focus on how the LHB ensures "effective clinical management, leadership and engagement to improve patient safety".

Builth Wells hospital (picture: Builth and Llanwrtyd Medical Practice)
Builth Wells hospital is one of four facing cutbacks

It added that it was also looking at "clinical governance and patient safety" to determine if there were any areas that needed to be strengthened or improved.

An assembly government spokesman said: "The majority of people in Powys receive safe, high-quality care and treatment.

"However, the review by the NHS Clinical Governance and Support and Development Unit follows some concerns raised by GPs over aspects of service provision and a number of patient safety incidents over the past few years.

"The review aims to ensure that there are consistent approaches in place to manage and reduce potential risks to patients."

He said the outcome of the first part of the review would inform the second phase looking at frontline hospital and community services.

Plaid's shadow Health Minister, Helen Mary Jones AM, said: "This is concerning that health professionals have raised the issue of patient safety in Powys. I welcome the investigation.

"This important work needs to be done quickly and thoroughly."

Kirsty Williams, Liberal Democrat AM for Brecon and Radnorshire, said: "Montgomeryshire AM Mick Bates and I have been working hard to get the assembly government to take a greater interest in the actions of the LHB and brought a group of doctors down to meet the minister.

"We want the best possible services for our constituents and trust that any review has this at its core and will be used to improve services and not as an excuse to close them down."

The Conservative Party's health spokesman Jonathan Morgan said the issue had not been brought up in the assembly chamber or in the health committee, as far as he was aware.

"I hope the assembly government isn't seeking to use a different avenue to close hospitals in Powys," he added.

"I'm a bit surprised this is being raised at this time."

Action groups have been formed to fight the LHB's plans for Llanidloes, Knighton, Bronllys and Builth Wells hospitals.

The LHB is facing a 3.5m deficit, but has said that its buildings are outdated and patients deserved better.

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