11/01/2008

Minister Commits to Rural Healthcare

Plaid Cymru's AM for Ceredigion, Elin Jones, has welcomed confirmation from the One Wales Government's Minister for Health and Social Services, Edwina Hart AM, that she is committed to securing Bronglais Hospital's future as a district general hospital to serve the rural population of Mid and West Wales.
Edwina Hart AM's reassurances came during a meeting held in Tregaron where representatives from local organisations were invited to raise their concerns directly with the Health Minister. She also confirmed that she remained committed to current plans to improve facilities and services at Cardigan and Tregaron community hospitals during a visit to the latter before the meeting.

Commenting on the Health Minister's desire to ensure that rural populations have equal access to healthcare services, Ceredigion AM Elin Jones said:

"I was very reassured to hear during the meeting in Tregaron that the Health Minister is aware of local concerns regarding the future of rural healthcare services now that she has agreed to a merger of NHS trusts in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. People in this area care passionately about the future of their health and social services and I'm glad that the Minister is committed to ensuring that Ceredigion doesn't lose out following the merger. The Minister also confirmed that she is eager to ensure that the merged trust's headquarters is located outside Carmarthen and I hope that she will consider locations in Ceredigion.

Elin Jones AM also welcomed Edwina Hart's announcement during the meeting at Tregaron that she had appointed Lord Elystan Morgan of Aberteifi to chair the committee which will advise on the implementation of the Rural Health Plan which was promised in the One Wales coalition agreement. Elin Jones AM further commented:

"During the protests to safeguard Bronglais Hospital 18 months ago I called for a Rural Health Plan to be developed and I'm glad that this will now become a reality. Today's announcement shows that the One Wales Government recognises the different needs of providing healthcare services in rural areas and I welcome Lord Elystan Morgan's appointment to chair the group which will advise on the development of rural health services".

County Councillor Alun Williams, who was also at the meeting added,
"Edwina Hart was more positive about the future of Bronglais and rural services in general than almost anyone expected. It's clear that Bronglais Hospital and the Assembly are both actively working towards putting in place the funding for the new hospital extension that was announced a few months ago".

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