Grave concern has been expressed regarding the “parlous and potentially unsafe” state of health services in the upper Amman Valley following the announcement of plans to merge GP services in the area.

The situation has led to AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas to call on Health Minster Mark Drakeford to intervene.

The move, which comes in the wake of the retirement of the GP for Cwmlynfell and Ystalyfera, has seen chiefs at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board approve a new ‘super surgery’ serving the villages along with Garnant, Gwaun Cae Gurwen and Brynaman.

The proposals have been slammed by patients groups, who claim the move will see around 14,000 patients treated by just three doctors.

A letter from the Patients Participation Group to the health board’s chief executive labelled the scheme “recklessness on an industrial scale”.

“As the Health Board you have a duty to place the needs of the patient at the centre of your decision making,” the letter said. “You have to be the instrument of change here or you will have failed.”

Mr Thomas said: “Residents’ have raised a series of concerns, including the potential Doctor-Patient ratio which could be anywhere up to five thousand patients per doctor if we go by the information I’ve received.

“Additionally there are concerns regarding the geographical area of the new ‘super practice’ and the physical location of services.

“Without doubt public confidence in the health service has been undermined by these developments.”