Welsh Conservatives have today called for plans to downgrade emergency departments in South Wales to be abandoned.
Under proposals due to be officially announced before the end of the month, the number of specialist A and E departments could drop to ‘four or five’.
Although a formal consultation has yet to take place, specific plans for A and E downgrading have been discussed publicly by the South Wales Programme board.
Earlier this year a crisis at emergency departments in the region was blamed on ‘unprecedented demand’. Shortly afterwards the College of Emergency Medicine wrote to the Health Minister warning A and E was at the ‘point of meltdown’. The letter went on to say: ‘Most days, they are seriously overcrowded. This jeopardises safety and puts patients at risk’.
Shadow Minister for Health, Darren Millar AM, said: "These plans are further evidence that Welsh Labour’s record-breaking NHS cuts are having a devastating impact on our hospitals.
"It’s just weeks since the College of Emergency Medicine told us that A&E departments are at the ‘point of meltdown’ and now is certainly not the time to be slashing the life-saving services they provide.
"With demand for our emergency services on the rise, any plans to downgrade up to half of A&E departments in South Wales are unacceptable and must be abandoned.
"Whilst sensible service modernisation in the region is something that we can all support, foolish plans to strip away emergency services from local hospitals are the very last thing that patients in South Wales will be prepared to accept.
"I urge the Welsh Government to step in and guarantee that all A&E departments will retain their current levels of service."