Hundreds of residents have turned out to a public event in Llandovery over the future of the town's hospital and minor injury unit.

In recent months the cottage hospital has seen staff shortages and reduced bed capacity leading to growing concern from the public that the hospital was at risk of closure. However, health officials have quashed those rumours saying the hospital "is of strategic importance to the health board."

More than 800 people turned up to the drop-in event hosted by Hywel Dda University Health Board in the Castle Hotel on Friday, with the aim to discuss ideas and ask questions about healthcare provision at the hospital.

During the event resident Derek Jones said: "The hospital is Llandovery's biggest asset, it is important we get the bed numbers back to what it used to be. Between the hospital and local doctors we are very fortunate to have first class health care here in Llandovery. If there was ever a risk of closure there would be an uprising in the town."

Another resident added: "We have been hearing rumours that nursing is being cut here at Llandovery so we are here today to find out if that is true."

Speaking to the Guardian at Friday's event, Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing at Hywel Dda UHB, quashed rumours of staff cuts, adding that they are in fact seeking to recruit nurses to increase services at the hospital.

"We cannot give a guarantee that we can get the staffing levels back up immediately but recruitment is underway across the whole organisation, which includes Llandovery," she said. "We are fortunate to have just recruited two new nursing staff for the hospital and are keen to promote our healthcare apprenticeship scheme, which allows applicants to work within different departments of the health board while studying at college to end up as a registered nurse."

Wyn Thomas, member of Llandovery hospital's League of Friends, said: "We have fantastic facilities but they are not being used to their full potential. Hearing that nursing recruitment is underway is a positive step forward."

Local county councillor Handel Davies added: "To see such an incredible turn out of an estimated 800 people in the middle of the afternoon clearly demonstrates the strength of feeling amongst the community for Llandovery Hospital.

"We need our bed capacity restored ASAP and it is encouraging to hear the Health Board is amenable to exploring the potential of utilising the soon to be vacated Ysgol Rhys Prichard primary school to develop and grow the health and social care service bringing care closer to the community.

"In conjunction with Carmarthenshire County Council we look forward to working with the Health Board to bring this vision to reality”.

Responding to events, Plaid Cymru AM Adam Price said: "I'm delighted to support the many hundreds from the local community who attended the Health Board's public meeting in Llandovery. The important message of keeping services in the town's hospital and the potential for further investment at the site could not be clearer."

If you were unable to attend the Health Board meeting you can send any comments or questions to