Left with a clinic

Dear Editor,

In 1978, in the school hall, when we protested against a closure in Cardigan Hospital, the Trust chairman told us that if we played our cards right and eased off on the protest there was a good chance we might have a new hospital in Cardigan, and even have it built before Llanelli. Llanelli’s Prince Philip Hospital was opened in 1989, and here we are, 24 years later, still waiting for ours. The Hywel Dda Health Trust is comparatively new, but its policies are the same: promises, promises… It seems that even the Welsh Government has not yet seen the plans.

About two years ago Hywel Dda closed a ward. I have good reason to remember that ward, for the superb care my dying housekeeper received there. Next the patients’ lounge went. We could see where this was leading, but Hywel Dda seemed to think that we were simple enough to be fobbed off with excuses anyone could see through. Now they say the beds will be lost, and once more their public relations machine thinks a few bland words will quell the restless natives. But we no longer believe them; the Trust has lost our trust. Hywel Dda is worse than bureaucracy; it’s autocracy. Those it “consulted” tell us they are totally amazed by the bed closures, thus reaffirming what we already knew: that its version of consultation is a fiction. Worse, whenever Hywel Dda issues a statement one has to read between the lines. For example, they state that when (When?) the new hospital is built its beds will be used as convalescence beds. But what precisely does that mean? We have always cared for those convalescing after treatment in Glangwili or Morriston, but in addition we have also treated the sick who are admitted directly from their homes without first going to a major hospital. Is Hywel Dda’s clever phrase about convalescence actually saying that in future Cardigan will be used only by those returning from the major hospitals? Will there still be room for those who fall ill at home and do not need to go to Glangwili or Morriston? In the past Hywel Dda has used clever phraseology to cover their ultimate intentions. So will they now tell us plainly: will local patients be admitted to our new hospital as a matter of first resort, or will they only qualify to get into it if they are convalescing after treatment somewhere else? We want a Yes or No.

Hywel Dda says Cardigan Hospital will not close. But that is not true, for there is no such thing as a hospital without beds – the very things they are removing. They are abolishing the hospital and leaving us a clinic. True, the building will remain open, but that is neither here nor there, for they are removing its heart. They mention staffing shortages, but nobody believes them because they are causing the shortage by cutting down on the money to pay the staff, and then claiming there is a shortage! For sheer nerve that takes some beating. It is the same with health and safety. We need a new hospital, but to claim health and safety as an excuse to close our existing one fools no one.

The purpose of Hywel Dda exists to care for us, as the local agent of the National Health Service. It is a hard job; but its heartlessness breaches its duty to listen to us and answer our needs. Do they really imagine we are cheered to learn that Tregaron will have extra beds? Tregaron is farther away (and on worse roads) than the major hospitals. Between Aberystwyth and Withybush there are 65 miles of road, and between Aberystwyth and Glangwili there are more. And now they are killing off all the remaining hospital beds for the sick in Cardigan and district!

It was good to read of the angry reaction to their plans. I hear only four patients remain, and these may well be gone by February. Meanwhile, my sympathy goes to the staff who want to work but instead are being let go: thank you for all you have done for us.

SEAMUS CUNNANE

Gwbert Road

Cardigan

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