PATIENTS, public and staff are being urged to have their say on a proposal to reshape key hospital services in South Wales, which experts believe are spread too thinly.
Ideas in the report Matching the Best in the World: Challenges facing hospital services in South Wales, published last week, could see A&E, obstetric, neo-natal and paediatric services based at four or five hospitals in the region, rather than the current nine.
Gwent's proposed Specialist and Critical Care Centre (SCCC), earmarked for the Llanfrechfa Grange Hosptial site near Cwmbran, would be among the hospitals housing these services if the report's suggestions are taken forward - but health chiefs across the region want as many people as possible, inside and outside the NHS, to air their views.
Health watchdogs are also keen for people to get involved in a discussion that is set to influence - through a project called the South Wales Programme - the future pattern of key hospital service provision in the region.
"This is a listening exercise. In the Aneurin Bevan Health Board area we are fortunate to have a well worked out plan (for modernising services), the Clinical Futures Programme, which has already been supported through public consultation," said Cathy O'Sullivan, chief officer for Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council (CHC), Gwent's independent health watchdog.
"There are certainly challenges but, if we get it right, this is an opportunity to improve outcomes for patients.
"We hope as many people as possible will access the background information and respond with their views."
The report reveals that problems in finding enough staff to cover these services as they are currently set up means expert standards are increasingly difficult to meet.
Too much dependence on locum doctor cover is a big issue, and at some hospital sites too few patients are seen on an annual basis for staff to develop or maintain key skills.
* THE report and further details of the South Wales Programme can be seen at www.aneurinbevanhb.wales.nhs.uk
Comments can be made up to December 19 by writing to: South Wales Programme, Aneurin Bevan Health Board, Mamhilad House, Block A, Mamhilad Park Estates, Pontypool, Torfaen, NP4 0YP; or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter and Facebook are also alternatives, at twitter.com/@aneurinbevanhb or facebook.com/AneurinBevanHealthBoard The CHC can be contacted at Raglan House, 6-8 William Brown Close, Llantarnam Business Park, Cwmbran, NP44 3AB, telephone 01633 838516, or e-mail email@example.com