Posted: Sat 23rd Mar 2024

Rising Costs Force Revisions to Rhyl Hospital Plans, But Project Still Moving Forward

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Mar 23rd, 2024

“Spiralling costs” have caused the Betsi Cadwaladr health board to revise now “unaffordable” proposals for a new hospital in Rhyl – but officials insist the plans have not been shelved. Angry Denbighshire councillors however slammed the board over the revelation at a scrutiny committee meeting this week, with one councillor branding the scaled-down proposals for the Royal Alexandra as “a waste of time”.
The plans for a then £60 million new hospital were first proposed around 13 years ago, but the project has remained frozen whilst awaiting Welsh Government funds.
A business case was finally agreed in March 2021, and Denbighshire councillors again vowed to back the project in May 2023 with a motion supporting another full business case being made for the hospital.
Proposals for the hospital included “fit for purpose” facilities, inpatient beds, services for treating minor injuries and ailments, an intravenous therapies suite, and a community well-being hub and café.
But the webpage remained unchanged for three years, and now the health board blames inflation, the pandemic, and the economic downturn for it going back to the drawing board.
Health board director Alyson Constantine gave a presentation at Denbighshire’s Ruthin County Hall HQ where she came under heavy fire for years of broken promises.
The revised hospital plans will be presented at a meeting at Llandudno ’s Venue Cymru on Thursday, March 28.Speaking at the scrutiny meeting at Ruthin’s County Hall HQ, Cllr Jeanette Chamberlain-Jones said: “I don’t know how many business cases have already gone forward.
“It really beggars belief how long this is taking, and it does seem that this is all being watered down basically,” she said.“How many community beds for instance? And one of the things desperately needed for this area is actually beds. Hundreds of houses are being built, and yet waiting times at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd are 12 hours plus, which is unacceptable, and if our population is increasing, like it is, with the new housing developments, it is never going to be able to cope. So how many beds are going to be provided?”
She added: “It is very important we have a proper new hospital as was originally promised with all the facilities that’s necessary for the community. To see things like this (the delays and changed plans) for over 13 years is not acceptable, and I don’t see anything going forward that I was listening to 13 years ago. It doesn’t happen, does it? It’s just another way of delaying everything.”
Cllr Brian Jones said: “I’m not impressed one bit. This will not give us anything in my view. I’m not medical. It won’t solve the needs, and actually, there is a case to say you are wasting your time.
“This is not going to solve our problems. The original scheme from 13 years ago, at £60m or whatever it was then, was not adequate then and so if this scheme is going to cost £20m, it won’t solve your problems in Glan Clwyd with bed blocking.”
He added: “This is life and death ultimately, so when you look at it from that point of view, money and funding shouldn’t come into it. They should find the funding. Things have gone up in price, yeah. But not everything’s gone up in price. Not everything went up 11% with inflation.
“I don’t accept funding can’t be made available. Funding should be made available, and we deserve a state-of-the-art hospital up here in North Wales to try and solve the issues that we’ve got. The biggest thing is the bed blocking in Glan Clwyd. People losing their lives shouldn’t be allowed to carry on. It’s rubbish. We are all wasting our time.”
Lead member for health and social care Cllr Elen Heaton responded angrily to Cllr Jones’ criticism. “I must say I am absolutely insulted on behalf of all the officers that you are saying this is a complete waste of time,” she said.
“The officers have been working incredibly hard to see this development through. We have to be realistic about it. The original scope wasn’t going to happen, so we could sit here and carry on waiting or we can try and take action and revise the business case. Now this is what we are doing, and we’ve sat through this whole process, and we’ve been absolutely clear that our priorities as a council are a minor injuries unit to alleviate pressures off Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and community beds. We’ve been engaging with the Welsh Government. That’s what’s different from the whole waiting game, and we’ve now also got the opportunity for IRCF funding. I think to say it is too late. It is a waste of time or whatever you’ve said is insulting and unfair.”
A Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board spokesperson said: “Since we developed our initial full business case for redevelopment at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Rhyl, the spiralling costs of materials, along with effects of the global pandemic and subsequent economic downturn, have rendered the original scheme unaffordable.
“While it may have appeared to members of the public the project had been shelved, behind the scenes staff have been working hard to develop new options for the improvement and enhancement of services on the site. In this intervening period some changes to the way we work and how services are configured also allowed us to look at the project differently. There has never been any change in our commitment to delivering a better and enhanced community hospital for the people of North Denbighshire.”
The spokesman confirmed that revised options will be presented at a full meeting of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, on Thursday, March 28.
Key elements of the new options include: ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Provision of new services, including beds and a Minor Injuries and Ailments Unit (MIAU) in a new building
Increased integrated working between health and social care teams
A stronger third sector presence at the site
A programme of infrastructure improvements to the existing buildings, benefiting staff and visitors to the site and sustaining it well into the future
Retention of the Glan Traeth buildings as part of the design work
A suitable car parking solution for staff and visitors to the site, working with our local authority partners ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Dr Chris Stockport, executive director of transformation and strategic planning and senior responsible officer for the development, said: “There has been a lot of work undertaken to get to this stage, and I really believe we have come up with the best affordable solutions, which will offer greatly enhanced care in a fit-for-purpose environment.“While this is the start of a process, I feel confident we have developed a deliverable idea for the people of North Denbighshire and something which will be valued as a real community asset.”He added, “Working with our partners at Denbighshire County Council and within the third sector, we believe these proposals will deliver better care, closer to home and help relieve some of the pressures faced by Glan Clwyd Hospital.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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