Plans for Morriston, Singleton and Neath Port Talbot hospitals to evolve into individual centres of excellence - designed to give people better access to emergency care, and cut through long waiting lists for operations - have been released.
The proposals will give each hospital unique roles, with all three working even more closely with extended community care services. Together, they will form a closely integrated NHS service for Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
Swansea Bay University Health Board is about to begin a public engagement programme on major changes to the role and function of the three main hospitals in Swansea Bay.
The health board is proposing to create three centres of excellence with each hospital specialising in different aspects of healthcare. This will be complemented by significant investment in our local Community, Primary and Mental Health services to shift the curve to local settings.
Under the proposals Morriston Hospital would be the centre of excellence for urgent and emergency care, complex care, specialist care and regional surgery.
Singleton Hospital would be the centre of excellence for planned healthcare, women’s health, cancer care and diagnostic tests. Singleton would become the powerhouse for delivering the high number of routine operations which do not need critical care.
Pictured left is Swansea Bay University Health Board Chief Executive Mark Hackett
Neath Port Talbot Hospital would be the centre of excellence for orthopaedic and spinal care – which means it will be the hospital delivering hip, knee and other joint replacements. It will also be the centre for rehabilitation and rheumatology, outpatients, day surgery and minor injuries unit.
The proposals are set out in an engagement document, Changing for the Future, which outlines the Health Board’s thinking in more detail.
Mark Hackett, the Chief Executive of the Swansea Bay University Health Board said: “Over the past eighteen months the NHS in Swansea Bay has faced a once in a lifetime global health emergency.
"As a result, we have had to make rapid changes to the way in which we delivered services and we’ve found that some of those changes have been tremendously beneficial, so beneficial that we now feel it is right to make them permanent.
“We must focus on giving our communities better access to urgent care, and at the same time cut through the long waits for planned treatment that have built up through the pandemic.”
The engagement report also proposes:
While some of the proposals for change emerge from the global pandemic, Changing for the Future is also the culmination of a decade long programme of change and development in local healthcare.
It suggests that health services should be local where possible and specialist where necessary with more people being treated at home or near to where they live and with hospital clinicians working together in specialist teams, able to provide high-quality, expert care for patients from across Swansea Bay.
Mark Hackett added: “It is really important that we now harness the power of digital technology by offering patients online access to NHS services wherever possible.
"Of course, some people may not be able to access digital services, or may not feel comfortable using them, so we will need to ensure their needs continue to be met.
"But many more people now have smartphones, tablets or laptops and would value the convenience of online healthcare.”
The health board’s proposals are also intended to help tackle the backlog of cancelled appointments that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposals are subject to a ten-week period of engagement and the engagement programme is being run in partnership with the Swansea Bay Community Health Council from 26 July to 1 October.
Members of the public can share their views on the proposals by following this link to the Health Board’s engagement website. Or you can write to the Chief Executive, Swansea Bay University Health Board, One Talbot Gateway, Baglan, SA12 7BR.
Some of these changes may affect some residents in Hywel Dda and South Powys, so we also welcome their views.