Aberystwyth comes to Cardiff

As someone who, in my day job, works as a nurse for Hywel Dda Health Board, I’m unable to comment too much on the major demonstration in support of Ysbyty Bronglais outside the Assembly building in Cardiff this week.

But it shouldn’t pass without comment that 860 people (official police figure) were at the event and that this was the second biggest demonstration at the Senedd since the Assembly was formed. 

Not that these people all came from Aberystwyth. The mayors of Llanidloes, Tywyn, Machynlleth and Dolgellau were all there with large contingents from their towns, emphasising the importance of Bronglais to a wide catchment area in Mid-Wales, much of which falls outside the boundary of Hywel Dda. More pictures of the demonstration can be seen here.

Blog posts by Betsan Powys and Gareth Hughes show that the demonstration has succeeded in bringing Bronglais, and its strategic position in the health geography of Wales, to the attention of serious journalists more used to operating within the Cardiff Bay bubble.

Hywel Dda Health Board’s position is that there are no plans to downgrade Ysbyty Bronglais and that whilst their Clinical Services Strategy may lead to some adjustments to services, they will maintain Bronglais as one of four major hospitals within the Health Board’s area. They cite the £38 million extension currently being built to the hospital – the Board’s biggest capital investment - as testament to that. Carwyn Jones, Welsh Government First Minister, this week backed that stance.

However a local group of mainly retired clinicians, known as the Aber group, disagree and the attendance at the demonstration, coupled with the 547 who attended a public meeting in Penparcau last month, shows they have succeeded massively in convincing local people that the Clinical Services Strategy presents a genuine threat to the hospital’s viability.

Time will tell. But this week’s demonstration shows that any changes in the services provided by Bronglais will be subject to the most rigorous of public scrutiny.

Blog post on another demonstration at the Assembly, this week in support of Llanelli Hospital.