Article by Olivia Grist
Hundreds of people have gathered in Cardiff to protest against the closure of a hospital’s A&E department.
The Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantristant is facing closure of its A&E due to a shortage of staff.
It has been reported that the department will either be closed completely or just throughout the night.
Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board said serious action must be taken to avoid “unacceptable risk to patient safety.”
Around 500 people protested against the proposals outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay – including Labour, Plaid Cymru and Conservative MPs and AMs.
Labour MP for Rhondda, Chris Bryant, addressed the crowd, saying: “I believe if you only go over to 12 hours a day of A&E, people will die.
“We in the Rhondda will never give up.”
According to online reports, staffing levels at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital are well below the UK wide standards.
Plans for the closure have been sped up after the recent resignation of the hospital’s only full time A&E consultant.
Among the protesters was Katie Edwards, who said that if the proposal was accepted the nearest A&E department would be Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr – a 40-minute drive away.
She added: “With two small children, the safety and security of knowing we’re minutes away from an A&E means everything.”
Tracey John from Williamstown in the Rhondda said: “I’ve heard of people regularly dying in the ambulances on the way down from Blaencwm to this hospital because of the distance, and this is their nearest A&E – can you imagine what would happen if they had to travel further?”
Women’s activist, Gwendelune from Newport, was also joined the protesters there today.
Although she will not be hugely impacted from the closure, she wanted to show her support to those closer to the hospital who will be.
She said: “We are very much entitled to our free healthcare, but how can people access that if hospitals are closing their department?”
More than 9,000 people have signed an online petition against the proposal.
As so many signatures have been collected, the matter has automatically been considered for a debate at a meeting in the Senedd – which took place today.
Councillors have made it clear they want a 24-hour A&E department kept at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital and so the debate will focus on how that can be made possible without causing a risk to the safety of their patients.
Featured image by Olivia Grist.