A PETITION is nearing 1500 signatures and reassurances have been given by the Chief Executive of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, and the Welsh Government Health Secretary that nurses at Welshpool's renal unit will not be privatised.

The renal unit at Welshpool's Victoria Memorial Hospital can provide dialysis for up to 24 people a day.

But the life saving service is actually provided by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) which covers North Wales.

The renal unit at Welshpool is in effect a satellite of the unit based at Wrexham.

Discussions over to changes as to how renal patients are dealt with in North Wales will have an impact on Powys residents and a decision is set to take place in July.

Nurses working there face being transferred from the NHS to a private company under a tendering process.

The health board is under the direct control of the Labour-run Welsh Government and has been in these special measures for the past three years due to a series of failings.

Last week, Wales Government's Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething AM, visited Welshpool to see for himself the work done to clear up the hospital following the flash floods that affected the building on Sunday, May 27.

It is also believed that he met nurses from the unit who voiced their concerns about the possible privatisation.

In recent weeks, Welshpool Llanerchyddol ward councillor Graham Breeze has joined forces with Plaid Cymru to save the renal unit.

He has been in discussions with Gary Doherty the chief executive of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Vaughan Gething the Health Secretary

In a letter written to Cllr Breeze, Mr Doherty said: "Wales has a long history of contracting with independent service providers (IPSs) for renal services, with the first contract being awarded over 20 years ago.

"I fully understand that this has raised concerns amongst staff and patients and we have worked to engage patient representatives, trade union and staff representatives in the review.

"The outcome of the review is not finalised but I can confirm that the Health Board will not support an option that requires transfer of staff from the NHS to independent renal service providers, so hopefully this response can give you assurance on that key point."

Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, said: "I can assure you that healthcare for the people of Wales is comprehensive, universal and free at the point of access and we will not be privatising the NHS."

In a written statement explaining in more depth the process going on in North Wales with dialysis services, Mr Gething and pointed at the success of the expansion contract of renal services in South-East Wales leading to "greatly improved" nursing to patient ratios.

The statement added: "Welsh Governments long established policy position is we will not support the staff between the NHS and independent renal service providers."

Councillor Breeze said: “I welcome the responses from both the Health Secretary and the Health Board and in particular Mr Gethin’s promise to write to the staff at the Welshpool unit with assurances on their futures.

“This is a particularly worrying time for all the staff involved and they deserve to have been kept better informed when their jobs are being discussed.”

The online Save Welshpool and Wrexham NHS renal unit nursing staff from privatisation has been set up by John Paul-Higgerson and at the moment has 1470 signatures.

Mr Higgerson, said: "By being forced to transfer their contracts to the private sector, potentially the nurses working hours, pay grades and job security will be affected and completely out of the NHS structure. This insecurity is causing them and their families a great deal of worry and upset."

To visit the petition go to www.change.org/p/gary-docherty-save-welshpool-and-wrexham-nhs-renal-unit-nursing-staff-from-privatisation