Health boards providing GP cover in the Amman Valley have moved to reassure residents over changes to services following fears of a “super practice” being set up.
Patients groups had expressed concern over rumoured changes which, they believed, would have seen three doctors caring for around 15,000 residents.
However, both Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU) and Hywel Dda University Hywel Board (HDUHB) have dismissed the claims.
Speculation centred on the restructuring of GP services after it was mistakenly thought a GP at the Meddygfa’r Cwm practice – covering Ystalyfera and Cwmllynfell – had retired.
In fact, two GPs at the practice have resigned.
A spokesman for ABMU said that “confidential contract discussions have been made public and misinterpreted before being concluded, leading to unfounded and unnecessary fears about the safety of services”.
He dismissed claims that a “super practice” had already been agreed.
“No decisions have been made, and separate proposals are currently being considered by ABMU and Hywel Dda health boards”.
ABMU’s Head of Primary Care and Planning for the Neath Port Talbot locality, Lindsay Davies, said: “We have been working to secure an alternative provider for the Meddygfa’r Cwm practice’s 2,700 patients in Cwmllynfell and Ystalyfera since the two GPs decided to resign in February.
“Neither is retiring. We understand both are continuing to work in the area.”
An ABMU panel is considering two proposals to take over the Meddygfa’r Cwm practice from September 1.
Both came from former partners in the Amman Valley Practice, which dissolved in May.
One of the proposals involved merging Meddygfa’r Cwm with a small practice based in Pontardawe while the second saw services provided primarily from a base in Brynaman.
Mrs Davies added: “ABMU health board will make a final decision in due course.”
The dissolution of the Amman Valley Practice has left Hywel Dda Health Board facing a similar process.
Describing speculation of “super surgeries” as “unhelpful”, a Hywel Dda spokesman said: “HDUHB is seeking bids for temporary provision for general medical services to serve patients from Amman Valley Practice in the areas of Garnant, Gwaun Cae Gurwen and Brynaman.
“This follows a breakdown of the partnership between GPs in that practice.”
Assistant Director of Primary Care Elaine Lorton said HDUHB was required to find a temporary solution to the situation following the decision of the GPs to end the partnership.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that general medical services are provided to local people and that duty of care is our top priority,” she said.
“We have therefore invited single bids for this temporary provision, in order to secure this provision as quickly as possible.
“As yet, we do not know what those bids will look like, but we will award the temporary contract to the bid that best meets the needs of patients from that practice.
“Can I reassure people that this is not the long term solution, and what will follow is a proper option appraisal for the area to fully understand the local health needs and this will include consultation with public representatives such as the Community Health Council and any other representative groups.
“We are pursuing this independently of ABMU but we are of course engaging with them to ensure we properly consider and deal with any cross-border issues.”