This afternoon Mick Antoniw, Assembly Member for Pontypridd moved an amendment that if successful will be an important step in saving 24hr A&E services at the Royal Glamorgan.

The amendment was jointly submitted by Cynon Valley AM Vikki Howells, Ogmore’s Huw Irranca-Davies AM and Dawn Bowden, AM for Merthyr and supported by Pontypridd MP Alex Davies-Jones, Chris Elmore MP for Ogmore and Rhondda’s Chris Bryant, as well as Unite, Unison and GMB trades unions, who represent healthcare workers at the Royal Glam.

The vote will be taken later today.

In moving the amendment Mick Antoniw’s said:

I move this amendment with the support of my colleagues Dawn Bowden AM for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, Vikki Howells AM for Cynon Valley and Huw Irranca-Davies Assembly Member for Ogmore.

What is this amendment about?

Aneurin Bevan said:  “Society becomes more wholesome, more serene, and spiritually healthier, if it knows that its citizens have at the back of their consciousness the knowledge that not only themselves, but all their fellows, have access, when ill, to the best that medical skill can provide.”

That is what it is about!

The establishment of the NHS is one of Labour’s greatest achievements.  Indeed, it is one of the Valley’s greatest achievements, since its founding principles were based on the values of our valleys’ communities. In Wales we are defending the NHS – its principles, its people and its funding – from the forces of privatisation.

But that is not enough. The great strength of the NHS is that it is owned by the people of Wales and we are merely the custodians of the NHS and Nye Bevan’s legacy. To that extent we are accountable to the people who have elected us to this Welsh Parliament.

The Royal Glamorgan Hospital Accident and Emergency service is a vital, an essential service for the people of the Pontypridd constituency who I represent and to those in the Rhondda, Cynon Valley, Merthyr and Ogmore valleys.  It is a life or death service. It is a service that none of us want to use but one we take comfort from in the knowledge that it is there for us when we need it.

It is clear to us all, that for six years the sword of Damocles has hung over the A and E department which has increasingly undermined the ability of Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board to recruit the necessary consultants. Last week I and my Westminster colleague Alex Davies-Jones addressed a packed public meeting in Llantrisant.  Thousands more watched online.  It was clear from the Health Board’s contribution that recruitment is the root-cause of this crisis.  Indeed, many were left wondering if there would be a need for a review if the Health Board’s recruitment strategy had been more effective.

So, whilst it is right that the Health Board is facing up to this emerging crisis, its starting point must be how a full, consultant-led A&E service can by guaranteed now and into the future, not what is the least-painful way of closing it down.  

There are five key facts emerging.

  1. The South Wales programme is massively out of date and increasingly irrelevant to the needs of the people of Rhondda Cynon Taf
  2. Prince Charles Merthyr and Princess of Wales Bridgend do not have the capacity to safely absorb the A and E provision currently provided in Llantrisant.
  3. Massive housing and population growth in the Taff Ely area will only further exacerbate this problem
  4. Closing the department and replacing it with a minor injuries unit is not viable.
  5. The Health Board’s recruitment crisis is the fundamental issue, not the hospital’s location, its staff or its funding.

The only viable options are:

  1. Rule out the option of closure of Royal Glamorgan A and E.
  2. Cwm Taf Morgannwg LHB to reinstate the option of retaining a permanent fully staffed 24 hour A and E Unit at Royal Glamorgan
  3. Bring forward other proposals for expansion of out of hours GP services and extending the opening hours of minor injuries units at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda and Ysbyty Cwm Cynon to alleviate pressure on all three emergency departments.
  4. Pursue a rigorous comprehensive recruitment campaign across the three hospitals.

Nye Bevan also said:

“The NHS will last while there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.” 

In moving this amendment I can assure members that the people of the South Wales valleys have the faith  for that fight.