LLANDYBIE community councillors have been urged to embrace plans for a new medical centre in Cross Hands, work on which is due to start next year.
Some members are opposed to the scheme – part of the Hywel Dda Health Board’s five-year programme that will see £40million invested in primary and community care facilities – which they fear will lead to the closure of Penygroes surgery.
But county councillor Anthony Jones called for “a balanced approach” in dealing with a facility he felt could benefit all sections of the community.
“These centres are trying to take services out of hospitals and into the community,”
he said. “We all want to keep hospital services, but I’ll ask anybody in this room what’s the first thing you want to do when you get into hospital? You want to get out.”
However, Penygroes councillors Peter Roberts and Llinos Hindley felt the potential loss of the surgery would have an adverse affect on the village.
“If the surgery goes, the chemist will follow,” Cllr Hindley told colleagues.
Cllr Pat Tiddy also had reservations, arguing that elderly residents would be forced to travel further and have to negotiate the notorious Cross Hands roundabout to access essential services.
“I take your point, Pat, but we’re looking for health provision near the Memorial Hall here in Llandybie and, to my knowledge, that is still going forward,” replied Cllr Jones.
“We should be careful about opposing something that’s going to bring a new health service into the area.”
Cllr Nigel Evans said everyone needed a reality check as the NHS was struggling to cope with an ageing population.
“You’re going to get more super surgeries, unfortunately, and the sooner we acknowledge that the better,” he added.
Cllr Roberts maintained that care in the community seemed ever more remote.
“We have these super surgeries where no-one knows you – and it’s important that a doctor knows you,” he said.
“They are centralising everything, taking away life-saving facilities from hospitals and by the time you get to the right place it could be too late.”
It was agreed to invite a health chief to a future meeting to clarify the situation.
A Hywel Dda spokeswomantold theGuardian: “My understanding is that there is the potential for Penygroes Surgery to relocate to the new building.
“We’re trying to demonstrate that in the long term the procedures this new centre could provide would mean many patients would no longer have to travel to hospital in Carmarthen or Llanelli for certain services such as physiotherapy and various diagnostic tests.”