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Plaid Cymru has expressed anger and disappointment after it was confirmed that the Accident & Emergency unit at Prince Philip Hospital will be nurse-led and GP supported, contrary to claims made by Labour politicians.
Plaid Cymru has also expressed alarm that last Monday saw eight ambulances queuing outside Prince Philip Hospital and warned that with Hywel Dda having to save £29 million in the coming years, the situation will only get worse.
This week, the party's AM Simon Thomas raised the issue in the Senedd, but expressed his concern that the Minister failed to give him assurances over the future of the A&E at the hospital. Far from clarifying the situation in the Senedd on Tuesday afternoon, the Health Minister and other Labour Assembly Members muddied the waters further and caused confusion about the future of the service.
Following the announcement, Mid and West AM Simon Thomas said:
"Plaid Cymru is clear that the people of Llanelli deserve life-saving emergency care within a safe distance from their homes, and it is hugely disappointing that the Labour Government is refusing to give us that.
A nurse-led A&E service is not the same as a doctor-led service. Although emergency nurse practitioners are a vital part of an emergency service, they will not be able to deal with every patient who comes through the door. Having doctors to lead the service on site will enhance patient safety by ensuring an additional layer of expertise and knowledge. The people of Llanelli deserve no less.
But I am particularly cross that members of the Labour Party in Llanelli and the Welsh Government are trying to pull the wool over people's eyes. I asked the emergency question simply to stand up for the people of Llanelli but unfortunately regardless of this spin the Health Minister has now confirmed that the removal of services will continue".
"I will continue to work with campaigners and Plaid Cymru Llanelli for a doctor-led emergency unit at Prince Philip Hospital."
Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas asked an urgent emergency question in the Senedd on Tuesday afternoon which stated "Will the Minister make a statement on the intention to establish a doctor-led emergency unit at Prince Philip Hospital following his letter to the Chair of the Llanelli Labour Party dated 21st November 2013?"
In response the Health Minister said "I announced my determination of service changes at Prince Philip Hospital in a statement to the Assembly on 24th September. There are no material changes between the statement that I made in the Assembly and the letter to which the member refers".
Statement to the Assembly by the Minister for Health on 24th September 2013 (2.38pm): "An independent scrutiny panel has been convened in the Hywel Dda area to provide me with advice on these matters (that includes Prince Philip Hospital A&E proposals). The panel unanimously proposed that an emergency nurse practitioner unit, supported by general practitioners, should form the future model of care at that hospital. I have carefully considered this expert advice and fully accept it. I have therefore determined that this form of service should be implemented."