FEARS have been raised about losing vital NHS beds once Tregaron Hospital closes with regional social care ‘approaching a crisis.’

The North Ceredigion Forum for Older People’s Care says a combination of care home and hospital ward closures as well as staff shortages could cost lives in the area.

A plan to replace Tregaron hospital with a single site GP surgery, community pharmacy, outpatient clinics, community nursing and social care facilities, as well as extra care housing has been on hold since 2020.

Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) says it is unable to put a timescale on when the project will be restarted.

The forum is worried about the significant delays and the existing hospital being ‘run down’ to make way for the new site – as well as how long construction could take.

Members also pointed out during a recent health board meeting that Cylch Caron would provide fewer hospital beds when compared with Tregaron and the now closed Bryntirion Care Home.

Former Liberal Democrat Ceredigion MP Mark Williams said: “We as a forum have been told by Hywel Dda officials that the NHS can commission beds in the residential care sector, and while this is practically true, the supply is not unlimited.

“The NHS looks set to lose more beds once Tregaron Hospital closes, whenever that might be.

“A sad feature of my regular visits to Tregaron Hospital as MP was to see a steady reduction in wards and beds, despite an excellent reputation for post-operational care.

“We are in no doubt that the contraction of the residential care home sector, and the inevitable limitations of a ‘care at home strategy’ are in part responsible for bed blocking, as well as the increasing demands of an ageing population, in an area that faces added costs due to rurality.

“Our forum has always acknowledged the severe financial pressures under which local authorities operate. But if the council’s Ageing Well strategy is to be fully enacted, then it will require added funding.

“In short we believe Ceredigion County Council, Hywel Dda and Government need to appraise their vision for the decades ahead.”

Cylch Caron Project board chair and Ceredigion county director for Hywel Dda University Health Board, Peter Skitt said: “Ceredigion County Council and Hywel Dda UHB remain committed to the Cylch Caron project.

“It will also provide an integrated rural model of community care and housing and provide a replacement for Tregaron Hospital and Bryntirion Residential Care Home.

“The tender pack is currently being reviewed by officers across Ceredigion County Council and HDUHB and once the tender process is complete, there will be a requirement to review the funding package in collaboration with Welsh Government.

“The project board is unable to provide timescales at present but is committed to ensuring the community is informed of any updates as soon as they become available.”