HOSPITAL directors have begun to ‘engage’ with staff on a Barry Hospital ward to outline proposals which the health board believes will improve patient care.

Staff on the Sam Davies ward, in Barry Hospital, and East Two ward, in Llandough Hospital have been informed that a redesign of services and the development of a new model of care could mean the closure of the wards in line with the ‘right first time’ approach and the development of the acute frailty service in University Hospital Llandough (UHL).

The Sam Davies ward, currently has 23 beds and is a rehabilitation ward for older people.

The University Health Board’s (UHB) strategy ‘Shaping Our Future Wellbeing’ sets out the ambition to transform the way services are delivered following the principles of ‘home first; empowering the person; avoiding waste, harm and variation; and delivering outcomes that matter to people.

The Board said there is good evidence that admission to hospital and longer lengths of stay are associated with de-conditioning, a loss of independence and greater disability – giving the example that within the first 24 hours alone muscle power can decrease by two to five per cent.

And it adds that on average 40 per cent of frail patients over the age of 85 admitted to hospital will develop a new disability.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, with partners, has established a programme of work to deliver the process improvements and service redesign required to reduce the delays currently experienced by patients.

A Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, spokeswoman said “Cardiff and Vale UHB is committed to providing care and services appropriate for the needs of our patients.

“We are currently engaging with staff on improving the pathway for Frail Older People which will maintain the individual’s independence and improve their recovery journey to get them home more quickly.

“Part of this engagement involves reviewing the bed capacity at Barry Hospital for older patients so they receive the appropriate care pathway for their needs and spend less time in a hospital setting.”

A source close to the Barry & District News, who did not want to be identified, said the Sam Davies ward proposals would impact on the old and infirm who would become more reliant on ambulance staff, home help workers, and district nurses who were already over-stretched.

“The amount of people this will affect will be astronomical for the people of the Vale - expecting people to basically to look after themselves with minimal help” they said.

“This is just another way of reducing costs getting patients out as soon as possible onto nursing homes or their own homes.

“This sounds such a backward step for a system that has worked for 70 years providing excellent care for the people.

“These new measures won't work.”

Unison Cymru Wales regional organiser, Andrew Woodman said: “Unison is shocked at the proposals and angry that we hadn’t been told in advance.

“Healthcare workers fear for their jobs and like other local people, they are worried about the future of services in their community.

“We call on health board to provide Unison will all the details of what is being proposed as soon as possible.

“Unison members will meet next Monday to agree an action plan to save the service.”

Health Board staff will meet with the community health council (CHC) to agree the timescale for engagement on Thursday, July 18.

It will then outline how people can give their views and talk to staff about these proposals.