GWENT’S proposed Specialist and Critical Care Centre (SCCC) has been confirmed as the future base for the area’s consultant-led maternity and neonatal, inpatient children’s, and A&E services, in a reorganisation of hospital roles.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board approved a series of recommendations on the provision of these four key services, designed to help safeguard them in the face of staffing issues.

Health boards across South Wales met yesterday to decide on the same set of recommendations, relating to hospitals in their areas and drawn up through the South Wales Programme, first announced 18 months ago.

The SCCC is an idea that pre-dates the South Wales Programme by several years, and Gwent health chiefs believe its inclusion in all the options for future provision of these services validates it.

Under the proposal agreed yesterday, consultant-led maternity and neonatal, inpatient children’s, and A&E services will be provided at five hospitals in South Wales, instead of the current eight. The other four sites will be the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, Morriston Hospital in Swansea, and the Princess of Wales and Prince Charles Hospitals in Bridgend and Merthyr Tydfil respectively.

The idea of a new hospital to treat Gwent’s sickest patients was first raised more than 10 years ago.

Since then, the project has been held up by the economic downturn, reviews, and latterly a lack of concensus on where the services should be concentrated.

The issue for Gwent’s health board is now how to sustain already fragile A&E, consultant maternity and neonatal, and children’s inpatient services until the SCCC is completed.