The future economic prosperity and availability of health services for Llandovery and surrounding areas was the subject of discussion last week as local politicians Jonathan Edwards MP and Adam Price AM organised a high level discussion with a range of organisations.
The discussion, which took place in Llandovery Hospital on Friday, was the result of ideas raised with the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr politicians by Llandovery GP of 30 years, Dr John Rees.
The discussion looked at the opportunities available to Hywel Dda University Health Board, Carmarthenshire County Council, the regional health collaboration project (ARCH) which includes Swansea University and neighbouring Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board to invest in primary and community care services so that care and treatment is more accessible and closer to communities.
A wider discussion took place on recruitment and retention of medical staff, and how Llandovery could be the home of an expanded community hospital, a teaching hub where inter-professional care could be amalgamated between all disciplines such as GP trainees, medical students, student nurses and physician associates, and expanded outpatient facilities. Dr Rees went on to suggest that the former Ysgol Pantycelyn site could house such facilities.
The overarching principle behind these talks was the provision of health and care services in rural communities whilst simultaneously providing a much needed economic boost to the region.
Present at the meeting were:
Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB
Peter Mannion, ARCH Programme Manager
Leighton Phillips, Swansea University – Senior Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor on Health
Linda Williams – Hywel Dda UHB County Director for Carmarthenshire
Stuart Walters – Carmarthenshire County Council
Councillor Meryl Gravell – Executive Board Member for Regeneration, Carmarthenshire Council
Dr John Rees, Llandovery (Also in charge of Medical School admissions at Swansea University)
Jonathan Edwards MP
Adam Price AM
Jonathan Edwards MP said the meeting was "extremely positive" and that "everyone approached the discussion with an open mind about what we could do together for the residents of Llandovery and the wider region."
Assembly Member Adam Price said the meeting achieved "exactly what we had hoped" and there was a clear plan "to expand on the initial discussion and get the views of the local community."
Expanding on his comments further Adam Price AM said:
"Having met with local GPs, who shared with us a very clear vision for the future of health services in the region, it was clear to Jonathan and I that there was an opportunity to bring a host of organisations around the table including, of course, representatives of ARCH who are helping to deliver innovative solutions for our future health needs.
"We thought that getting everyone in the same room to discuss our shared objectives would be the best way forward in realising what could be a very exciting prospect.
"At the centre of this work is bringing public services back to the community whilst stimulating the needed economic regeneration of area.
"The meeting achieved exactly what we had hoped. We all have a clear set of goals, and the health board has agreed to coordinate a wider public engagement exercise to expand on the initial discussion and get the views of the local community.
"I look forward to seeing this work get underway in earnest."
Jonathan Edwards MP added:
"I was delighted that everyone in the meeting came to the discussion with an open mind about what we could do together for the residents of Llandovery and the wider region.
"Some of the ideas Dr Rees outlined to the meeting are extremely exciting but now need further exploration. It's imperative that any services and facilities in the future meet the needs to the community and, of course, the wider aims of the health board. The last thing we want is to put something in place simply to be seen to be doing something.
"Following this extremely positive meeting, it's clear to me that all parties are committed to furthering the health and wellbeing of rural Carmarthenshire whilst delivering sustainable economic growth for the region.
"I'm very grateful for the way in which all parties engaged in the meeting, and I'm very optimistic about the future prospects of the area."