Traumatic ward shock

ON Friday, the shock announcement of the imminent closure of the last remaining ward of Cardigan Hospital was made. This news should come as a traumatic shock to the people not just of Cardigan, but also the surrounding villages and rural areas, who for many years have been expecting an expansion of health services in the area, with the long-delayed promise of a new hospital and health centre. Putting aside the non-existence of plans for a new build, what impact will this closure make on the people of the area? First, it has served an important role in caring for elderly patients who are unable to be treated at home: with the closure of beds at Withybush and Bronglais the role of the community hospital becomes ever more urgent. Second, the demographics of the population have been known for years – that an increased percentage of the population of the area are over 80 years old with a consequent need for often complex medical care.

What type of care do we want for our elderly relatives and neighbours? Beds are being made available in private and council-run residential homes, but is there skilled nursing care there? Do the local GPs have access and decision-making powers in these places? The nature of community care is vague and with the cuts to both health and social services budgets, where are the funds going to come from to finance this? Why should those in advanced years be the subject of diminishing services? Psychological factors are also hugely important: to help morale it is vital that patients can be visited by people they know and love, and with the poor transport services and increased fuel costs in this dominantly rural area, another obstacle is put in their way.

What should the people of Cardigan do? Should they call for a vote of no confidence in the Health Board executive? Certainly local MPs, AMs and councillors should be lobbied by as many people as possible as a matter of prime importance.

After all, today’s middleaged population are the next generation to need the services of a so-called NHS and welfare state.




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