Alarm sounded at hasty decision to press ahead with decision on future of Royal Glamorgan A&E
The Campaign to Save Royal Glamorgan Hospital A&E (SRGAE) is sounding the alarm at a decision by Cwm Taf University Health Board to press ahead with making a firm decision on the future status of the Royal Glamorgan Hospital Accident & Emergency department at its meeting in June. We believe this is too short a timeframe to learn any lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and may be pushing through a hasty decision which needs more work and reflection.
The decision to press ahead was made at a meeting of the Health Board today (28 May) and will end the pause in work to decide the future of the department. One of the options under consideration is a downgrade of the department to a minor injuries unit. We support the permanent retention of the department as a 24-hour consultant led unit. The community surrounding RGH relies on such a service.
Despite our alarm, we welcome the board’s success in recruiting a full-time consultant as clinical lead for the department, which in the board’s own words ‘has led to a significant improvement in medical rostering and shift-fill…with a decreased reliance on single-shift agency doctors.’ This represents a ‘modest success’ in the recruitment of consultant medical staff, according to the Board. Further interviews are planned.
Len Arthur, Chair of SRGAE, says: “We welcome the continuing progress toward making the required appointments at Royal Glamorgan Hospital A&E. For us, this is a necessary step toward maintaining the current 24-hour consultant led service.
“However, we view with considerable alarm the commitment to bring a firm recommendation to the Board about the future of the A&E department at its next meeting in June. We do not think this is sufficient time to take full account of the lessons of the pandemic which requires an all-Wales inquiry.
“Our campaigning to stop any downgrading of the A&E department will now intensify through June.”
Diane Blackmore, Vice-Chair of SRGAE, says: “We see the new appointments as more than a ‘modest success’ and welcome the new consultants to our community.
“We are having regular meetings with the Board and we have yet to be convinced that all the legally required assessments have been and could be undertaken before the June meeting. We will continue to campaign and meet with the Board to press our case.” The two sides are holding meetings online.
The campaign also notes, in a paper from Health Board Medical Director, Dr Nick Lyons, to today’s meeting, that “The response to COVID-19 has also resulted in innovative models to deliver care in the department and these new ways of working have been implemented at pace.
“The models for service delivery continue to develop as we work with COVID-19 and this has the potential to further support the long term sustainability of the Emergency Department.”
The Board also noted there had been ‘some early success’ in developing substantive roles for existing locum staff, encouraging their longer term employment in the department and training as consultants. Along with increased support from A&E at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, this has begun to address some of the safety concerns in the A&E department at the Royal Glamorgan.
The Board adds that its work to consolidate and build on the recruitment drive will continue, ‘leaving no stone unturned in allowing delivery of a 24/7 Emergency Department’.
About the Campaign to save the Royal Glamorgan Hospital A&E:
This is a grassroots campaign set up on Facebook with over 22,000 members (https://www.facebook.com/groups/SRGAE/?ref=br_rs). The group has reached out to the community beyond social media and estimates a reach of a further 40,000.
It has set up a series of community action groups around the catchment area and will be stepping up its actions as the campaign evolves.
The campaign’s stated aim is “The permanent retention at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital of a 24-hour consultant led, emergency department.”