Ward 35 – Prince Charles hospital
My attention has been drawn to a posting on a local social media site about ward 35 in Prince Charles hospital. The posting contains information that I must make comment upon though I am unable to discuss any individual cases due to data protection requirements.
However I must also be clear that people should not seek to present comments that place interpretations on meetings that they were not present at, or have not asked to discuss with me. Any constituent who wishes to discuss their situation can as always contact the office for an appointment in the usual way.
However I am happy to share the general information I currently have about Ward 35.
- For several years Cwm Taf (Morganwg) University Health Board has been on a journey to strengthen community mental health services and there is a general consensus that receiving such care in a community setting is better than on a hospital ward. However changing health services is never easy.
- I had understood that as part of the new plans a dementia hub would be built on Keir Hardie health park. I had seen plans and held meetings of relevant parties in my office to discuss those plans.
- The Health Board decided that plan was not to be taken forward at a point last Autumn, though that decision was not communicated to me as the local AM. The Board are however continuing to invest in the community mental health services delivered out of Keir Hardie.
- Ward 35, and its patients, is the third and final ward to be considered in this process and it is true that the Board’s current plan for Ward 35 has a timeline that runs until Summer 2019.
- In meetings with both a senior member of staff and recently with the Chair of the Health Board I have stated my concerns and stressed that the needs of the users and their families should determine the appropriate timeline for any change in this service.
- I have been told that a series of 1:1 assessment meetings are to be held with the families of those people using ward 35. I have expressed to the Health Board my serious concerns for those relatives who are being told about a hospital based service outside of the immediate locality.
- As a result I have told the Health Board that it should ensure they have access to/commission appropriate beds in the Merthyr Tydfil area going forwards. I await their response.
- I can make no comment on individual cases.
- I am not able to comment on staffing matters as they are for the employer and trade union(s) concerned, and I am not involved in the detail as that is not the role of an AM. However in general terms the Health Board tell me that in strengthening the community mental health service there will be promotional opportunities, and that given the need for the expertise of these staff they are a valuable resource for the strengthened community services and posts are also being held open for them in Cwm Taf if needs be. Indeed some other parts of the service in Cwm Taf are having to arrange cover for those posts that some of the staff at ward 35 might need if the plans proceed. For some staff, who hold more generic posts, then opportunities may arise in other wards at Prince Charles hospital.
- As a former trade union official myself I know that employment issues are for the trade union to negotiate on behalf of their members. However given the recent report on this health board I have written to the trade unions to check on the latest communication with them, and their members in the ward 35, about the changes for my own reassurance.
Finally I have an agreed timeline for resuming my communication regarding any constituent who has contacted me on these matters.
Dawn Bowden AM