JONATHAN: 'Amman Valley patients deserve answers'

CALL: Amman Valley politicians have called for answers following the recent shake-up of GP services.

CALL: Amman Valley politicians have called for answers following the recent shake-up of GP services.

First published in News by , Editor

Residents of the Amman and Swansea Valleys deserve answers following the reconfiguration of GP services in the area, according to MP Jonathan Edwards.

The call comes after Mr Edwards accused Abertawe Bro Morgannwg and Hywel Dda Health Boards of plotting the creation of a a permanent 'super surgery'.

Under a recent reshuffle, three GPs will serve the entire population of Garnant, Gwaun cae Gurwen, Brynaman, Ystalyfera, Cwmllynfell and parts of Pontardawe.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg recently awarded the GP contract for the Upper Swansea Valley to the newly-formed partnership while Hywel Dda has handed a nine-month temporary contract to the same group.

Mr Edwards has said he fears if the contract is made permanent, patients will face a diminished service.

Mr Edwards, MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, has written to Health Minister Mark Drakeford demanding he examine the changes in the interest of patient safety.

Mr Edwards said that now that the commissioning process has now been completed, it is vital that the Boards' decisions be scrutinised at Assembly level.

"It is imperative that the Health Minister looks at the new structure and satisfies himself the residents of Amman and Swansea Valleys would receive nothing less than first class access to primary care services under the approved contracts," said Mr Edwards.

“I fully accept that both Health Boards in this case have had to respond to a situation not of their own making.

“However, now that they have decided to effectively create a super practice, patients deserve answers to basic questions - on what the GP-to-patient ratio will be, where services will be located, and how long patients will be expected to wait to gain access to a GP.”

Mr Edwards has now called on Mr Drakeford to examine the set-up before the permanent contract is awarded.

“The residents of the Amman and Tawe Valleys deserve to know whether the Health Minister is happy with the way in which the Health Boards have decided to configure primary health care services in the area,” he said.

His views echoed those of Carmarthenshire County Council leader Kevin Madge who has previously said he feared patients would face even longer waiting times and a reduced service.

He said: "I'm really concerned about this. It is unacceptable.

"These services need to be maintained - It is all about giving patients the best possible services.

"I have repeatedly asked the Health Board how this will impact on the people of the Amman Valley, but no one is giving me any answers.

“It is up to the Health Board and these doctors to explain how they can offer first class health care to residents when the question is whether it is even possible to provide sufficient services with this kind of doctor-patient ratio.

"This is a major area of concern for everyone across the political spectrum and we need answers.”

Following the award of the contract, Hywel Dda has organised a series of drop-in sessions for residents.

Former patients of the now defunct Amman Valley Practice are being invited to attend the sessions and take part in the consultation over the future of general medical services.

Assistant Director of Primary Care Elaine Lorton said: “Our ultimate aim is to provide assurance for the community that through the permanent contract they will receive safe, high quality and integrated services.

“This is in line with the University Health Board’s aim to provide more care in the community closer to people’s homes.”

In addition to the drop-in sessions registered patients have also been sent letters to explain alternative ways in which they can be involved in the consultation.

The UHB is also engaging with community representatives such as the Community Health Council and local politicians.

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