A local GP claims that her practice has been misled and patronised by Hywel Dda in its handling of the closure of inpatient beds at Cardigan Hospital.

Dr Astrid Cuddigan of Cardigan Health Centre in a hard-hitting letter published in today's Tivy-Side (see page 6) says that many of her colleagues feel the same.

"Whilst I understand (but do not condone) the financial constraints that dictate how the Health Board can run and function, I wish to express my regret at the handling of this decision. As a Practice we have been misled and patronised all along. Our confidence in Hywel Dda is now at an all time low."

Staff have been told that from February 28 there will be no inpatient beds at Cardigan Hospital.

Dr Cuddigan has voiced concern whether there will be enough beds in the community sector.

"Recently, we were told by Gill Davies (Interim County Director) that there are ‘plenty’ of beds in the community to suffice. This is clearly not the case as Glangwili, Withybush and Bronglais (as did Cardigan) have difficulty discharging patients in a timely manner because of shortages of beds and lack of home care and/or social services packages of care. What plans have been made for the procurement of these beds/services? As usual we have not been told," she said

And she added:

"Eighteen months ago I wrote to Chief Executive, Trevor Purt about my concerns . His reply was vague – money was spent to calm the situation (£30k+ on single occupancy areas – barely used, now to be shut) and the beds were gradually cut down. They have finally admitted that the beds are to go and neither does it look likely that there will be any beds in the new ‘building’ which we are no longer allowed to call a hospital. "

She also raised fears about the future of the minor injuries unit which is often closed at short notice.

"I feel that I do not want to continue to work in a system lacking in integrity and compassion. I know that many of my colleagues feel the same. It will certainly hasten my plans for retirement," she said.

A University Health Board spokesperson said:

"The NHS is at a difficult juncture where it is clear that services must evolve to meet the demands placed on it and if we are to focus the resources we have in terms of staff and money where they are needed most. Change is never easy but the University Health Board remains positive about the new service model it is developing for Cardigan and local GPs will be integral to its success. The University Health Board is arranging to meet with Cardigan GPs as a matter of urgency."