With just one week to go before Hywel Dda’s Big NHS Change consultation comes to an end, residents across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire are being urged to get involved and have their say on the health board’s three proposals to fundamentally change the way that they provide local healthcare services for the better.

Over the last eleven weeks, the health board has heard from thousands of people about their plans to radically overhaul healthcare services to ensure that it is safe, sustainable, accessible and kind for current and future generations.

Each proposal has been tested by clinicians and members of the public have been asked to provide their feedback in a multitude of different ways, which will be independently analysed and considered before any formal proposal is put before the health board later this year.

Hywel Dda’s Chief Executive, Steve Moore, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in our consultation so far, whether they’ve taken the time to fill in a questionnaire, attended one of our public drop-in or stakeholder events, or provided feedback in other ways.

“There is now one week left to go until the end of what has been the biggest and most important public consultation ever undertaken on the future of NHS services in west Wales, and every last sentiment counts. That’s why I am urging anyone who hasn’t already done so to read through our proposals and tell us what you think.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is for us to hear your views – now is the time to make your voices heard.”

Among the biggest challenges the health board currently faces are an ageing population, difficulty for many people in accessing services close to home, significant recruitment challenges – particularly specialist medical staff – and ageing hospital buildings which require a lot of maintenance to keep running.

To overcome these Hywel Dda want to radically change the way they provide local health care services so that people are accessing most of the care and treatment they need in their local community, and are able to stay at home while they are getting treatment rather than having to go into hospital.

Reducing the number of main hospitals will mean having fewer medical rotas to fill, making it easier to attract clinicians to come and work for us; it will also mean shorter waiting times and fewer cancellations, and more money for local and community health services.

In all three of the proposals, Bronglais District General Hospital will continue to provide services for mid Wales; a new major hospital will be built somewhere between Narberth and St Clears, and there will be 10 community hubs across the Health Board area.

The proposals are:

Proposal A

• A new urgent care and planned care hospital between Narberth and St Clears

• Community hospitals in Glangwili, Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli and Withybush

• A general hospital in Aberystwyth on the Bronglais Hospital site

Proposal B

• A new urgent care and planned care hospital between Narberth and St Clears

• Community hospitals in Glangwili and Withybush

• General hospitals at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli and Aberystwyth on the Bronglais Hospital site

Proposal C

• A new urgent care hospital between Narberth and St Clears

• A planned care hospital on Glangwili site

• A community hospital in Withybush

• General hospitals at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli and Aberystwyth on the Bronglais Hospital site

Hywel Dda’s Executive Medical Director & Director of Clinical Strategy, Dr Phil Kloer, added: “Since we launched Our Big NHS Change consultation we’ve heard a huge range of different views about our proposals and I would like to personally thank everyone who has shared these with us.

"The conversation that you have been involved in has been critical in terms of helping to challenge and shape our way of thinking – these are the biggest changes that we as a health board have ever proposed and it’s essential that we don’t leave any stone unturned.

“The challenges we face are really significant. People are living longer, some with long lasting health conditions, and we expect there to be many more older people who will need regular health care and social care.

“In our area some people live in towns and some in country areas, making it difficult for us to ensure that services are in the right place for people to access.

"Many people live a long way from services, so helping people to live at home while they have treatment can involve a lot of travel for health workers.

“We know that people want to be supported to manage their health in their own homes - about 4 out of every 10 hospital beds are filled by people who could be treated at home. Added to this is the fact that we’re finding it hard to get enough permanent staff, especially specialist medical staff, to come and work for us, and we also need to make fuller use of new technology such as computers, phones, telehealth and telecare.

“We all have a shared passion for the NHS, our services, our history and our staff and we want to harness this to design, together with you, the best health service for our population.”

You can give your views by completing the online questionnaire at www.hywelddahb.wales.nhs.uk/hddchange, emailing hyweldda.engagement@wales.nhs.uk or calling 01554 899 056.