THE fight to see key services restored at Tywyn Hospital continues.

The Tywyn Hospital Action Group held a public meeting with members of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in attendance.

Campaigners say when the health board closed the inpatient ward in March, it was without any notice, consultation, discussion or rationale.

The hospital was refurbished and opened in 2016 with superb modern facilities, but 16 beds it contains were never fully funded by the health board from the outset.

Following a petition of over 5,500 being discussed by the petitions committee at the Senedd campaigners were asked to hold a public meeting where representatives from BCUHB and Llais (‘your voice in patient and social care’) would attend.

After the meeting on 21 November, the group will provide the petitions committee with a report for them to consider the petition further.

The ward has been closed for eight months, and the group has endeavoured to further the campaign not only through the petition, but also by sending formal questions to the health board, making freedom of information requests, liaising with the Community Hospitals Association and Llais, and attending local council meetings.

Over 120 people attended the meeting and local speakers shared heartfelt, brave and personal accounts of the support and care received by relatives as inpatients when the ward was open. The meeting we also heard about current problems facing patients and health services in the area.

Campaigner Jane Muir said: “Disappointingly BCUHB staff had little to say or to follow up on what they had said at the meeting they attended in Tywyn in May.

“Again, reference was made to wanting to work together with the local community on staff recruitment; for instance, the board have said and continue to say that a barrier to recruitment is the availability of suitable accommodation, yet the community have provided the health board with up-to-date lists of good quality affordable accommodation, generously offered by locals, and questions were asked at the meeting why these had not been shared with prospective staff.

“The board also said in May that arranging an attractive package for staff to come to Tywyn was a priority, and this was reiterated by the board once more, yet this has not been progressed but posts remain vacant.

“Following the meeting, many individuals expressed their upset and disappointment that we are no further on with the opening of the ward since it was closed eight months ago.

“Thousands of pounds of local donations have gone towards equipment and facilities for the hospital, in fact records show that work to put a kitchen in for patients and relatives, on the inpatients ward, at a cost of over £10,000, was spent from the donations fund in March, at the same time the ward was being closed.”

Ffion Johnstone, west integrated health community director for BCUHB, said: “We understand the frustrations within the community but we are only able to reopen Dyfi Ward when we can ensure safe staffing levels. It has been a challenge to recruit to the area but we are pleased to confirm we have appointed two international nurses who will be arriving in Tywyn over the next few months.

“We still require one registered nurse and a ward manager to safely reopen the ward. Our efforts will continue to recruit to these posts and as part of our recruitment process we are including information about support available to find suitable accommodation in the area.

“We intend to continue to engage more broadly with the local communities and committed at the public meeting to working together to find solutions which best serve the local health needs.”