August 2010 Leaked Document and Real 5 year plan
Since then the Health Board have first denied the validity of the leaked document and then played a very skilful game with the intention of concealing their true plans while convincing the public that they are being open and transparent. It's almost Orwellian!
First came a series of "Engagement" exercises during the summer of 2011, followed by promises of announcements of their plans - originally to have been at their bi-monthly meeting of July 13th 2011. These announcements were then repeatedly deferred and the current status is that we will be unlikely to hear any announcements until June or July 2012 at the earliest.
Then came the "Extended Listening and Engagement Exercise" during the first three months of 2012. Various documents and a DVD were distributed, and open "Health Events" held, at the same time the Health Board were assiduously touring the counties making their Powerpoint presentation to numerous cherry-picked groups.
However, despite numerous invitations from Councils and SWAT, the Health Board refused to attend any public meetings in order to engage in open debate.
During this period our Committee worked hard on keeping up with developments, divining what the Health Board were actually saying (or not saying), running the County Show, writing and making statements to the Press TV and Radio, publicizing and organizing meetings, and arranging a demonstration with the help of Chris Evans-Thomas and her Bucketful of Hope Charity. We managed, by publicizing the issue, to abort a potentially disastrous management plan to close down the Orthopaedic ward at Withybush. Especially successful events were our stand at the County Show of August 2011, our public meeting in January 2012 at the Picton Centre, Haverfordwest, our demonstration outside Withybush Hospital on March 29th 2012, and our public meetings in St David's and Haverfordwest in April 2012.
In contradistinction to Bronglais in Aberystwyth and Prince Philip in Llanelli which have each had overt and direct threats to services - surgery in the former, and A&E in the latter, there has been no direct threat in Pembrokeshire. Therefore there has been little if any public perception of any threat at all. Our small band worked hard to demonstrate to as many as possible that there are indeed threats.
The crucial information currently available affecting the safety of local healthcare has been obtained from the "listening exercise" documents and presentation, and appears to have been well concealed during the exercise. For example, nobody in the 90-strong St David's audience was aware of it. That is, that while in one part of their documentation the Health Board are promising "Full Emergency services" and have specified the full range of Core Services that we currently have as "essential backup" for these services, in another part (right at the end and missed by most) they are actually putting forward as options, removal of three of those "essential backup" services. These are Emergency Surgery, Trauma and Orthopaedics. Loss of these would trigger loss of the other Core Services which depend on them, rendering Withybush eventually into a Cottage Hospital.
These options are there in the documentation, yet the Health Board have denied in public that they are being considered. That is the crucial message for June 2012, and SWAT will continue to make people aware of this until public concern and action becomes self-fulfilling.