600 Hospital Beds ‘Could Close’
Around 600 hospital beds could close at two of Wales’ largest hospitals with more patient care taking place in the community, it is understood.
Beds in general surgical and medical wards could go over the next 10 years at Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales and Llandough, near Penarth.
Cardiff’s Rookwood and West Wing rehabilitation units would also close and a new centre built.
The shake-up would mean supporting more patients at home or in the community.
The modernisation plans are due to be consulted on later this year.
Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Local Health Boards, along with Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, said the changes were needed after an assembly government strategy said there was too much reliance on acute hospitals in Wales.
They said many patients were currently being admitted to hospital when they do not need to be because there were not adequate community services in place.
They also said some patients stay in hospital longer than they need to because there was not enough care for them elsewhere.
This can result in problems such as bed-blocking.
Under the plans, around 400 patients would be treated in their own homes or in residential care, supported by Cardiff and Vale NHS staff.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said continued investment in specialist services such as community nurses and other health workers was needed to ensure the shake-up was a success.
“Many of these roles are currently deployed within the acute setting; health professionals who are shifting to a community based environment will require continued professional development to deploy these skills,” it said in a statement.
But Conservative shadow health minister Jonathan Morgan AM said he believed the proposals appeared to be “more about saving money than improving patient care”.
“Surgical beds are absolutely vital for the effective provision of hospital treatment and recovery,” he said.
“Many people will be extremely worried that patient care could be compromised if these proposals go ahead as planned.”
Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, Jenny Randerson AM said: “What sort of society are we creating when we are forcing our NHS to set up credit cards to raise income?
“Everyday we are seeing more evidence of the need for the government to prioritise their funding on frontline care rather than on gimmicks like free paracetamol for millionaires.”
Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Local Health Boards and Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust said the closure of acute beds would only be considered after the need for “extensive investment in community-based services was recognised”.
It said: “Our proposals, which will set out a 10-year programme of change, are still in development and will need to be subject to full public consultation.
It added: “The need to replace West Wing and Rookwood Hospitals has long been recognised. Despite the excellent work of our staff, the buildings are no longer fit for purpose and need to be replaced.”