Frustrated Denbighshire Councillors Await Approval and Funding for Rhyl Hospital Redevelopment
Frustrated Denbighshire councillors were told there was no time scale for the re-development of Rhyl’s Royal Alexander Hospital.
Whilst the business case was agreed back in March 2021, the project has remained frozen and awaiting Welsh Government approval and the allocation of funds.
At a partnerships scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday, councillors had the chance to question Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board director Alyson Constantine about the delay.
Mrs Constantine explained that the health board were now awaiting a decision from Welsh Government on whether the plans would be taken forward.
Denbighshire’s cabinet member for health and social care Cllr Elen Heaton revealed 20% of the total funding for the hospital’s redevelopment had been secured through the North Wales Regional Partnership Board.
The board had drawn its first 10-year strategic capital plan, for which all six local authorities were asked to put forward their capital priorities, and Denbighshire were successful in being awarded funds for 20% of the money needed.
Cllr Heaton admitted it was frustrating as the redevelopment has been on the cards for over a decade. “From Denbighshire’s perspective, the need is undeniable, and our commitment is absolute; however, we do need to face the harsh and grim and challenging reality of the very difficult financial climate that we face, particularly within the health and social care sector.”
She added: “I do wish there was more I could update from our behalf.”
Mrs Constantine then explained a submission to Welsh Government, detailing Betsi’s capital funding priorities, would be submitted in October and that could prompt further information from Cardiff, including time scales.
Cllr Jeanette Chamberlain-Jones said: “It could mean we’re waiting another 12 – 15 years then?”
Denbighshire’s corporate director for social services Nicola Stubbins said: “I can’t speak for the minister, and it is a Welsh Government decision as it is Welsh Government capital funds that are being sought; however, what I will reiterate is the business case is clearly evidencing the need for the redevelopment of the Royal Alex Hospital, not only in terms of those local services to the residents of Rhyl and on that coastal strip, but it’s also for all those other provisions of services.”
Mrs Constantine added: “I do understand people’s frustration, and I’m sitting here looking very calm, but you cannot underestimate the frustration we all have whilst these kind of things are taken forward and decisions made.”
Meeting chairwoman Cllr Joan Butterfield said the council were being given the same reasons for the delay as they were 12 years ago.
Cllr Bobby Feeley said: “Every time Betsi send a representative here, and I appreciate you (Mrs Constantine) are in a difficult position – anybody would be – it has to be remembered that when the Alex closed in 2009, that’s 14 years ago, and then it was planned to have a rebuilt model in 2017. We did have a time scale then. You haven’t given a time scale now.”
She added: “Are you in a position to say when and if this is ever going to happen? Wouldn’t it be braver if you just came forward and admitted it’s a step too far?”
Ms Stubbins said: “We do not have, and we have never had, a time scale from Welsh Government when an ultimate decision will be taken on this scheme or on any other scheme.”
Denbighshire County Council and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will now await more information from Welsh Government.
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