HEALTH services across South Wales are in line for a once-in-a-generation shake-up, and bosses at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board are urging people in Port Talbot to have their say in the run-up to the changeover.
There are two parallel elements to the programme, Changing For The Better (C4B), which covers the services provided by ABMU, and the broader strategy for South Wales as a whole, which includes Aneurin Bevan health board, covering Newport and Gwent, Cardiff and Vale and Cwm Taf.
C4B is devoted to seven key areas – unscheduled care, long-term conditions, care for frail, older people, care of children and young people; maternity and newborns, staying healthy and planned care – while the South Wales programme is looking at major injury, serious illness and problems during childbirth.
The two programmes were launched yesterday at a special meeting in Bridgend of the ABMU board, which emphasised that there are no firm proposals at this stage, although centralisation of some services, such as high-level care for children and newborn babies, has been mooted under the South Wales programme.
To accommodate such changes, other services would be transferred to smaller hospitals such as Neath Port Talbot, which will continue to play a key role in local health service delivery, an ABMU spokeswoman told the Magnet.
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said it was essential patients had access to safe, sustainable services as close to home as possible – and the status quo was not an option, given the difficulties in recruiting medical staff in some areas.
Yesterday’s launch marked the start of a public engagement process on C4B that will last until Christmas. ABMU will use feedback from staff and residents to help shape proposals that will go out for consultation early in 2013.
Board chief executive Paul Roberts said: “This is a real opportunity to reshape NHS services, and I would encourage as many people as possible to join the debate.”
A number of special drop-in days have been arranged in Port Talbot, Neath, Swansea and Bridgend, including a session at Croeserw Community Centre on November 2. Events will also be held in Port Talbot town centre, the board says.
Changes could be introduced next spring after the public consultation.
Details of the drop-in days, Changing For The Better and South Wales Programme engagement documents, including videos, are available at www.changingforthebetter.org.uk.
ABM says it will also place copies of Changing For The Better in NHS premises and other public buildings.
People can comment on the documents by registering with YouTellUs (www.YouTellUs.org), an online community developed by Swansea University. Or, they can email: ABM.C4B@wales.nhs.uk or call 01792 704019.
People can also write to Changing For The Better Team, ABM University Health Board, 1 Talbot Gateway, Baglan, Port Talbot SA12 7BR.