Gwent hospital services set for shake-up

KEY hospital services in Gwent are likely to have to be reorganised by August next year to remain sustainable.

Obstetrics, paediatrics and neo-natal services have been under the spotlight in the last couple of years as proposals to locate them on fewer hospital sites across South Wales have been thrashed out by the region’s health boards.

These proposals have now been agreed, with the planned Specialist and Critical Care Centre (SCCC) near Cwmbran to be the base for these services in Gwent.

But it will not be fully operational until mid-2019 at the earliest, and health bosses have warnedinterim reorganisation onto an existing hospital site is likely to be required beforehand, to maintain staffing levels and safe delivery of services.

The completion of the regional service reorganisation discussions means health boards are now looking at timescales, and the availability of trainee doctors and other healthcare staff.

The Wales Deanery, which commissions and supports doctors’ education, has warned of reduced numbers of doctors in training, difficulties in filling staff rotas, and the need to ensure on-the-job training is improved.

The issue in Gwent is how services such as obstetrics, paediatrics and neonatology can be sustained, and Aneurin Bevan Health Board has been looking at options for consolidating them onto a single hospital site.

Details have not been published, but the latest version of its integrated medium term plan highlights that training requirements mean “a workable solution” must be in place by August 2015.

Work is also continuing on a reorganisation plan for emergency general surgery.

Another service due for a shake-up is that for dealing with strokes, with plans being drawn up to centralise the hyper-acute stroke service at the Royal Gwent Hospital by October this year, providing a single point of emergency care and admission for suspected stroke patients.

This has been brought forward after investigations concluded changes are needed ahead of the new hospital being opened as staff shortages mean expertise are spread too thinly.

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