FEARS over possible loss of local health services due to centralising provision in Newtown as part of the North Powys Wellbeing programme has been identified by councillors as a major concern.
Powys County Council’s Health and Care scrutiny committee was given an update on the project which they are working on jointly with Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB).
There are several new councillors on the committee and with the departure of the council’s director of social services Ali Bulman for a new job, director of environment and economy, Nigel Brinn now “fronts up” the project from the council’s side.
The Park area of Newtown has been earmarked for the campus – which will bring health, social care, education, voluntary sector and even housing together in one place and reduce the need for patients to travel for treatment outside of Powys
The cost of the total scheme is now estimated to be £122 million and will be funded by the Welsh Government.
Cllr Gareth Morgan who is one of two county councillors representing Llanidloes which has its own hospital – Llanidloes & District War Memorial Hospital.
Cllr Morgan said:
“What I want to be certain about is services are not taken away from there and placed in Newtown – so it makes it further for our community to travel to access those services.
“We continue to have services provided from Bronglais (hospital in Aberystwyth) which is our primary source of expertise.”
Cllr Morgan felt it important that this issue is factored in from the start.
He feared that if these concerns were brought up later on in the project, after service provision had been worked out – he would be told “it’s too late now.”
Mr Brinn said that still “early days” and he would flag up the issue to his health board colleagues.
He also believed that there would be a consultation process once “specifics” of what services will be provided at the campus are finalised.
Committee chairwoman, Cllr Amanda Jenner said: “It’s early days but it’s worth us sowing our seeds of where our concerns are.”
Cllr Jenner said that as the scheme grows getting people to see the project as one for: “North Powys and not just for Newtown will be the challenge.”
PTHB project manager, Sali Campbell-Tate said that work is being done on analysing how far and how long it takes people to travel to access current health services.
And then comparing those times and distances if these services were provided in Newtown.
Ms Campbell- Tate said: “That doesn’t focus just on the Newtown population but on the whole of North Powys.
Ms Campbell-Tate explained that one of the questions being looked at is: would Machynlleth residents continue to travel out of county to Bronglais hospital in Aberystwyth if they were offered the same treatment, but quicker, in Newtown?
It is hope that the campus will be built and open by 2026.
The proposals include:
New school building for Ysgol Calon y Dderwen;
Health and care facilities, including the potential to conduct some outpatient diagnostic services and day-surgery as well as 32 in-patient beds and services currently delivered at the Park Street Clinic;
Health and care academy;
Library provision and shared community space including community garden space; and
Short-term supported living accommodation.
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