‘Turning down Gwent care centre would be costly’
GWENT health bosses have warned that a Welsh Government 'no' to plans for a multi-million pound Specialist and Critical Care Centre to treat the area's sickest patients would make providing hospital services "difficult" and more expensive.
Responding to an audience question about what will happen if the project does not get the go ahead, put during Aneurin Bevan University Health Board's annual general meeting, chief executive Dr Andrew Goodall admitted its outline business case for the long-proposed project could be thrown out.
Though he did not go into details, he said a contingency plan is being worked on, "but it is almost a no-go area."
The Specialist and Critical Care Centre (SCCC) project has been several years and several millions of pounds in the planning, and for it to be turned down at this stage would be "difficult" said Dr Goodall.
"Ultimately there could be a 'no', there could be a decision that money is very tight centrally. But the 'steer' is that we have not been wasting our efforts."
An outline business case for the centre, which would provide emergency and complex care services currently provided at both the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall Hospitals, was submitted last December.
It has subsequently become tied up with an ongoing proposal to reorganise A&E, neonatal, paediatric and obstetrics services across South Wales, with health minister Professor Mark Drakeford delaying a decision on the SCCC until that process is completed.
Such was the response to the consultation on this reorganisation, with more than 50,000 comments received, that a decision on the regional future of these services was postponed from October to late in the year.
"I think the process needs to move forward in the next six-eight weeks," said Dr Goodall.
Without the SCCC, which will cost upwards of £270m, existing hospitals would have to continue as hubs for emergency and complex care, as well as the other services they provide, but there would be major, and costly, issues to overcome with their infrastructure and capacity, and some services would ultimately have to be consolidated on one site to tackle problems with staffing and the maintenance of specialist skills.
Health board chairman David Jenkins said the downside to any contingency plan if the SCCC does not go ahead, would be cost.
"A contingency plan, or plan B, would cost more than plan A (the SCCC). Plan A is the most cost effective solution," he said.
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