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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July, 2003, 18:39 GMT 19:39 UK
Hospital plan 'will cut beds'
Protesters
Campaigners picketed board members as they arrived
A replacement hospital in Tenby will lead to the loss of 16 NHS beds, a Labour AM has claimed .

Christine Gwyther says because the new building will not have any in-patient care, it will cause an increase in bed blocking in south Pembrokeshire.

More than 40 campaigners attended a meeting of the county's local health board on Wednesday which gave unanimous backing to a scheme to close the existing cottage hospital and replace it with one on a new site.

But the option supported by board members does not involve replacing the 16 NHS beds currently provided.

We think it's a straightforward cut by stealth
Christine Gwyther AM

Instead private nursing and residential homes will be asked to provide 10 beds for patients who cannot return home after operations.

Other private sector beds will be sought in outlying communities like Narberth.

Chairwoman of the Tenby Hospital League of Friends Pat Wright told the meeting in Haverfordwest:" We're asking for a full replacement and all our existing health facilities which have been promised on many occasions."

Tenby mayor Carolyn Thomas is also angry about the changes.

"We need a hospital with in-patient beds with a 24-hour minor injury service," she said.

"We need it because of our distance from Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest."

Christine Gwyther AM
Christine Gwyther AM: 'Straightforward cut by stealth'

AM Christine Gwyther presented the meeting with a petition backed by 2500 south Pembrokeshire residents calling for the NHS beds to be retained.

The case put forward by the Pembrokeshire and Derwen NHS Trust says running costs of the new hospital would be 195,000 a year more than at present with the in-patient beds.

A saving of around 5,000 would be made each year if it used private sector beds.

There would also be a saving of 1.5m in building costs without the beds.

Stuart Moncour, the board's director of planning and primary care, said approval would only been given for the new hospital if it cost the same to run as the old one.

He said the local health board could only support or object to the recommendation and could not put forward an alternative option.

'Stealth'

Board member Phil Parry said: "It seems to me everything that the people of Tenby are asking for is going to be provided except for the location of the beds."

"We are here to look after the people of Pembrokeshire as a whole rather than just one area."

The board unanimously approved the scheme which will now go to the NHS trust and the Welsh assembly.

But outside the meeting Ms Gwyther said campaigners would continue to fight the plans at every opportunity.

She told BBC News Online: "If this board said it wanted to close a whole ward at Withybush there would be an absolute outcry.

"Yet they are trying to slip these cuts past the people of Pembrokeshire and we're not having it.

"It will mean 16 less NHS beds in Pembrokeshire as a whole and that is bound to have a negative effect of bed-blocking."

"We think it's a straightforward cut by stealth."


SEE ALSO:
No ordinary spending review
10 Jul 02  |  Politics
City fears spending 'black hole'
14 Jul 02  |  Business
European aid tops agenda
14 Jan 00  |  Wales
Brown gives Wales 10bn windfall
12 Jul 02  |  Wales


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