Elin Jones, Plaid Cymru AM for Ceredigion, has challenged the Health Minister regarding the loss of beds at Cardigan Hospital, and whether there will be in-patient facilities when the new hospital is eventually built.

During questions to the Health Minister, the Ceredigion AM raised the future of community hospitals more widely, and the dangers of making changes to services before full assessments had been undertaken of the availability of alternative types of care.

Local Plaid Cymru AM for Ceredigion, Elin Jones, said,

“The chief executive of Hywel Dda Health Board, Trevor Purt, has made it clear in public that he would prefer to see a hospital in Cardigan without inpatient beds, with those beds being outsourced to the private and local authority sectors. The Minister confirmed that the NHS should pay for such care, but he failed to distance himself from Mr. Purt’s remarks on future hospital provision in the Cardigan area.

“I urged the Minister to undertake a nation-wide study of the impact of closing beds in community hospitals. Local authorities cannot provide nursing care, by law, leaving the private sector as the only realistic option. Building new NHS facilities without inpatient beds is a very risky move in rural Wales, where alternative providers are limited.

“We all know the results of these bed closures. Patients have to spend longer in general hospitals, with all the ‘bed-blocking’ problems that entails, and the cost of ongoing care is often shifted from the NHS to other budgets, for instance hard-pressed local councils.

“The Minister also said that he expected that a full analysis of the impact of bed closures would be undertaken by Health Boards when such a service change occurs. I have grave doubts whether the procedure followed by Hywel Dda Health Board in relation to Cardigan Hospital came close to this. The community, staff and patients were left – and are still left – in the dark.”