Singleton Casualty: Concessions Won but Public Debate Denied

18th September 2008

Despite huge concerns and demands for an open public debate, Swansea Community Health Council (CHC) has voted by 5 votes to 2 to deny a 12 week public consultation over plans to change Swansea's minor casualty unit at Singleton Hospital into a GP led service.

NHS campaigners, with Swansea Socialist Party members to the fore, argued that these proposals were part of the ongoing downgrade of the unit and were being bulldozed through, without public consultation, in a matter of weeks by a Trust management who reportedly confirmed to a local councillor that they 'had never won a public consultation before'!

At the CHC meeting the Trust accused government policies for being responsible for the acute shortage of appropriate staff to cover the unit and claimed that recent regular closures of the casualty meant it was 'unsafe' and threatened the CHC with complete closure if their proposals were not accepted.

This 'pistol to the head' approach obviously affected the decision not to allow the general public, patients and staff to scrutinise more closely the Trusts proposals and will, as one CHC member remarked, 'only add to the perception that this move is just another step towards the complete closure of the unit in the future'.

However, even our relatively short campaign has resulted in the Trust modifying and improving its original proposals.

Instead of the 24 hour minor casualty service being replaced by just a 12 hour, daytime GP led service with no non-appointed provision between 8pm and 8am, the unit will now remain open as a 24 hours service. Unlike the original proposal there wil be no patients turned away during the night which will now operate between 10pm and 8am as a 'walk in' service as well as an appointment, GP out of hours service.

Singleton staff, the CHC and health campaigners will be monitoring the unit closely to ensure the service promised is delivered and that it's long term future is guaranteed.

Alec Thraves
Swansea Socialist Party
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