FEARS have been raised that a hospital department in Welshpool could be privatised

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

But the life saving service is actually provided by the Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board 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.

Health Campaigner and Powys County Councillor, Joy Jones has been speaking to people and staff worried about the changes.

Joy Jones said: "This has been hushed up and has been in danger of being slipped through without questions being asked.

"Why was there no consultation and why have Powys Health Board not make this public?

"People should have a say on this.

A patient has told the County Times that meetings between the Renal Services Manager and individuals as well as nurses had been taking place during the last week and it was expected that a decision would be taken on the service within the next couple of weeks.

Montgomeryshire MP, Glyn Davies is also the North Powys Kidney Patients Association co-treasurer has written to Gary Docherty, Betsi Cadwaladr chief executive, with a number of questions about the renal unit.

Glyn Davies said: "Staff are nervous about what's being said, but we don't know enough details."

In his letter Mr Davies asks a number of questions including:

"Will the service currently provided at the Renal Unit be the same or will it be enhanced in some way by a private company?

"How will shared care be affected between local GPs, BCUHB’s unit in Wrexham and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital?

"Will patients from Powys be given priority to dialyse in Welshpool above patients from outside the area?

"How will patient transport be provided to and from the Unit and who would provide this service?"

A spokesman for Powys Teaching Health Board said: "Renal services in Wales are commissioned nationally by the Welsh Renal Clinical Network (WRCN) rather than by us locally and provided in Wrexham by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, who employ the staff.

Dr Evan Moore, Executive Medical Director at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: "Currently, renal services across North Wales are provided by either the NHS, an independent provider or a combination of the two.

"This mix of models was inherited when Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was created and the work currently being carried out is to find the most sustainable and consistent solution for the future.

"As services at the Welshpool unit are provided by the Wrexham renal team this naturally forms part of the review.

"The scope of the process is to look at who provides services and not where they are provided.

"The aim is to make sure patients continue to receive high-class renal services with up-to-date equipment in suitable and safe accommodation, regardless of who the provider is. BCUHB already has experience of joint working with the private sector across North Wales, so we would expect the outcome of this process to identify the best solution for the service and our patients."

“If you have any questions or would like to share your views then please speak to Toni Hamlett at Toni.Hamlett@wales.nhs.uk or a message can be left with Bethan Davies on 01978 727100.”

The privatisation of the service was also discussed at a Welsh Assembly Pleanary session where First Minister Carwyn Jones responding to a question said: "We don not agree with privatisation.

"In Wales the NHS will remain in the public sector."