A TRADE union has called on the public to oppose a proposal to close the Sam Davies ward in Barry Hospital.

The Barry & District News (June 27) reported that ward staff had been informed that a redesign of services and the development of a new model of care by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board could mean the Sam Davies and Llandough Hospital East Two wards closing. It caters for rehabilitation of older people.

Unison claimed the board had failed to engage with staff and the community about its plans.

Unison Cymru Wales regional organiser Andrew Woodman said a great deal of anger and worry had been caused.

He said: “Healthcare workers in Unison will mount a vigorous local community campaign to prevent the downgrading of hospital services. Unison will force a formal consultation which will increase the consultation period from eight weeks to 20 weeks. We will launch a petition with the aim of getting this issue debated in the Senedd. We’ll be on the town’s high streets speaking to the public and we will lobby local politicians to join our fight.”

He added: “Barry might be a small community hospital but there are lots of services based there. The town has some very deprived areas and many people will not be able to afford to travel to health services based at Llandough or the Heath hospital. There is a clear need for respite and inpatient beds within a short distance of their relatives. Many Barry hospital healthcare workers live locally and don’t drive so redeployment will be difficult.The board has not promised that job losses will be avoided. Staff still haven’t received a written proposal from the health board.”

Vale AM, and former health minister, Jane Hutt has met South Glamorgan community health council and Cardiff and Vale UHB chairwoman Maria Battle and chief executive Len Richards to clarify the position. She also met Sam Davies ward staff, patients, and relatives and said there had been fears over future plans over a period of time.

Vale MP Alun Cairns said he was “deeply concerned” and had raised the matter directly with Cardiff & Vale UHB. “I am clear that they must not push through a closure that would create significant challenges for Vale residents.”

Vale council Plaid opposition leader Cllr Ian Johnson said: “These ward closure plans concern me. It’s important that patients are in the best place to get the care and support they need. For some people that will be home, for others it will be a hospital.”

A Cardiff & Vale UHB spokeswoman said: “We understand concerns are being raised. We are in the process of talking to staff, patients and key stakeholders and following the engagement process set out by Welsh Government. We will be engaging with the wider community following discussions with the Community Health Council on the engagement process.”