Health Chiefs Criticised for Way Hospital Emergency Service Was Closed Down

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Byline: By Madeleine Brindley Western Mail

Health chiefs have been criticised for the way they shut down emergency service at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli. An independent inquiry report, ordered by former Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons, said the consultation into the move was marked by "too much confrontation and too little collaboration".

The decision to centralise emergency surgery at nearby West Wales General Hospital, in Carmarthen, provoked widespread anger in Llanelli, as coffin-carrying residents demonstrated in the streets.

The inquiry report by Dr Neil Goodwin, which was published yesterday, said Carmarthenshire Local Health Board and NHS Trusts' decision to centralise emergency surgery was reasonable.

But it added, "Patient flows and patient preferences should not be determined by NHS structures and systems. Patients should be supported if it is more convenient for them to use emergency or elective services at hospitals other than in Carmarthenshire."

Emergency surgery at Prince Philip Hospital was stopped in February, following a report by the Royal College of Surgeons, two years' previously, recommending it was centralised in Carmarthen.

Carmarthenshire NHS Trust said a maximum of only five emergency operations were carried out at the hospital every day - emergency surgery was only carried out between 9am and 5pm in Llanelli.

Dr Gibbons announced an independent inquiry would look at the process leading up to the cessation a day before emergency surgery was centralised.

The independent inquiry has made 14 recommendations, including that both the trust and the Welsh Assembly Government draw up an "exciting and compelling vision" for the future of Prince Philip Hospital and that the centralisation of emergency surgery should be "rigorously performance managed". …