Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Powys Health Board Owes Us An Explanation.

On 6 June I attended a meeting with Mr Andy Willams, Chief Executive of the Powys Local Health Board, in Llanfyllin and was pleased with the categorical reassurance he gave during his presentation of the Board’s Consultation Document “Doing More, Doing Better” that there would be no changes in the Board’s commissioning policy regarding Powys residents who are normally referred for treatment to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital or the Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen. Indeed Mr Williams was clear that neither of those English Hospital Trusts would be solvent without the contribution made by the Powys Local Health Board (approximately 10% in each case).

It came as a surprise therefore to see that Mr Chris Mann, Chairman of the Board, is already proposing changes to the service in the model set out in “Doing More, Doing Better” even before it has been adopted! John Howard, Chief Executive of the Montgomeryshire Community Health Council has spoken of “a huge degree of faith [required] from the people of Powys” towards these plans. He can say that again! Surely what is needed now is for the Local Health Board to come back to the public with definitive long-term plans so that Montgomeryshire residents can see where they stand.

One of the unfortunate consequences of the current uncertainty is that some hardworking fundraisers are finding it difficult to continue their work because of suspicion regarding the Health Board’s plans. Sadly throughout the country there are a number hospitals under threat of downgrading or even of closure which were built with funds raised from public subscriptions alone and the contribution of Welsh people to raising funds for the Royal Shrewsbury and Orthopaedic Hospitals should not be forgotten. The Health Board owes it to us all - patients, prospective patients and fundraisers - to clear up this confusion as soon as possible.

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