Newtown needs a new, state-of-the-art hospital to provide adequate healthcare for the people of Montgomeryshire and attract more doctors to the area.
That is the view of a Newtown county councillor and health campaigner who has called for the Welsh Government address the dire lack of health services in the area.
Cllr Joy Jones, chair of Newtown Health Forum, has told the County Times that long journeys over the border in an emergency could be putting people’s health at risk.
With the future of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals (SaTH) still up in the air as the Future Fit consultation drags on, Cllr Jones feels patients in Mid Wales need to stand up and say enough is enough.
“We are being dramatically hit by changes across the border in Shropshire. We don’t want to be at the bottom of the list once Shropshire decides,” said Cllr Jones.
“People are going to lose their lives over this. Over the border, when we need somes treatments, they can’t give it immediately as they do for English patients. They have to apply to get the funding and every day that people have to wait could be detrimental to their health.
“The Welsh Government should be proud of its citizens and should be making sure we get the best of the best.”
Cllr Jones believes a new-build hospital in Newtown, providing health services to the whole of Montgomeryshire, is the only answer.
A new hospital was spoken of in 1997, with the UK government’s Welsh Office writing to a resident in a letter seen by the County Times: “The Powys Healthcare NHS Trust are progressing proposals for the development of a new build hospital in Newtown, providing elderly and acute mental health in-patient services.”
It adds: “If the bid is successful it is hoped that work will commence on the new hospital in July 1998, with completion in September 1999.”
Two decades on the new hospital is yet to materialise, and Cllr Jones says it is more desperately needed than ever.
She said: “Come on Powys Teaching Health Board, give us a hospital that’s central to Montgomeryshire.
“We are the biggest town in Powys. We have been promised a hospital – it is about time they stood by their promises.
“It feels like we are being fobbed off constantly. It is no longer acceptable in this day and age, we live in a time where our healthcare should be 100 per cent.
“We should be showing the rest of this country a fantastic way forward. Powys Teaching Health Board wants to start thinking big and be the leading health board in Wales.
“Newtown Hospital is older than the NHS itself. Why are we having to have such old buildings? They no longer appear fit for purpose.”
While Newtown Hospital has recently benefited from a new maternity unit, car park and X ray facilities, Cllr Jones feels a more sustainable long-term future needs to be secured with an investment and commitment to a new, modern hospital that can adequately cater for the ever-changing health needs of an aging population.
She hopes a new hospital would centralise health services that are currently scattered all over Newtown in one place, and a new facility would entice more doctors into the area to solve the ongoing issue of understaffing.
Newtown Health Forum is now challenging the health ministers of the Welsh and UK governments, as well as SaTH representatives, to visit Newtown to better understand residents’ healthcare needs.
Cllr Jones said: “The problem is our health provisions are situated all over the town. We need a central place where everything is under one roof.
“Putting sticking plasters on things that are actually haemorrhaging is not good enough. They need to fix it properly.
“We don’t want temporary fixes any more, we need sustainable fixes. If these services are put into place in Newtown, in a new facility, the doctors and nurses will want to come here.
“And Shropshire would be very welcome to use our hospital and pay to come to the other side of the border to use it.”
See full story in the County Times