Plaid Cymru politicians Jonathan Edwards MP and Adam Price AM are concerned that west Wales patients will not have equality of access to specialist hospital services as NHS Wales proposes locating a new Major Trauma Centre in Cardiff instead of Swansea.
Major trauma describes serious and often multiple injuries where there is a strong possibility of death or disability. These might include serious head, chest, abdominal and skeletal injuries sustained as a result of accidents, sport or violence.
Major trauma is the main cause of death for people under the age of 45 and is a major cause of debilitating long term injuries. More than half of major trauma is caused by road traffic accidents.
NHS Wales has held a consultation on establishing a new Major Trauma Centre to serve residents of South and West Wales as well as South Powys. Its preferred option is to locate the Centre at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, with a smaller trauma Unit at Morriston Hospital, Swansea.
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr representatives Mr Edwards and Mr Price said they agree with the principle of establishing a Major Trauma Centre as it delivers a range of highly specialist services around the clock, meaning patients with the most severe traumas can get complex treatments faster. They have expressed their concern, however, that patients in west Wales would not get equality of access to the specialist treatment were it to be based in Cardiff.
The Plaid Cymru duo have joined the call of their Assembly Member colleague, Dr Dai Lloyd, to base the new Centre in Swansea as it's closer to where a third of all trauma incidents occur, and provides fair access to services for everyone across the south and west of Wales.
Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards said:
"Major Trauma defines the most serious of incidents and, whilst our local hospital may only deal with one or two trauma incidents a week, the chances of survival dramatically increase within the context of a trauma network. We therefore support the principle of the network in order to provide the most specialist of treatments, with the most specialist of clinicians, around the clock and all in one place.
"But evidence shows that the first 60 minutes after a trauma can be the difference between life and death. Given that the choice is between Cardiff or Swansea, it is imperative that Morriston's bid to host the centre is successful for the sake of everyone living to the west of Swansea.
"The communities Adam and I represent regrettably witness a higher rate of road traffic accidents on rural and semi-rural roads, as well as agriculture and activity-based accidents, often linked to tourism. It therefore makes sense to locate the major trauma centre closer to where incidents happen, rather than putting more pressures on the air ambulance service.
"Every community in Cardiff and to the east of the city already has access to a major trauma centre within one hour. The Labour Government must afford the residents of south west Wales equality of access to these life-saving services."
Assembly Member Adam Price said:
"For patients who suffer life-threatening injuries, speed of transfer to specialist care is vital. Morriston's location, with good motorway access, means that most people in south and west Wales are within the 'golden hour' timeframe.
"When we consider that over a third of all major trauma patients originate in south west Wales, it would therefore be entirely sensible for the major trauma centre to be based in Morriston and closer the high concentration of incidents.
"But we should all be concerned with the Welsh Government's continuing centralisation of services away from the west.
"The biggest statement the Labour Government can make to alleviate everyone's concern is to support the bid for Morriston Hospital to house the new Major Trauma Centre."
Swansea GP and fellow Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Dr Dai Lloyd added:
"Previous UK-wide reviews of certain specialties have seen services which were based in Swansea lost to Cardiff and then later lost to Bristol because Cardiff and Bristol were so close together geographically.
"Paediatric cardiac surgery has already been lost from Morriston to Cardiff, and then in a subsequent UK-wide review was again lost from Cardiff to Bristol.
"More recently, we've had a suggestion by Professor Chris Moran that the award-winning Burns and Plastics Centre in Morriston would also be ideally located in Cardiff. Plaid Cymru is asking when does this centralisation agenda end?
"Only by having interesting tertiary services will South West Wales ever be able to attract the very best in terms of medical staff and researchers. Indeed, the Swansea Bay City Deal and ARCH programme are founded on the principle of developing South West Wales as a leader in terms of health innovation and research. The Labour Party must recognise that Wales does not end in Cardiff. They must not allow Swansea and South West Wales to be left behind."