Spent this afternoon at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Two missions. Firstly, a 'Goodbye Meeting' with Tom Taylor, Chief Exec. of the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospitals Trust, who will be leaving his post in the near future. In my opinion, Tom has done a terrific job, and has had to put up with some serious c*** from the upper echelons of the NHS. I'm not sure that the Royal Shrewsbury would be there today but for him. He's off to work for DEFRA. Made me laugh when he started talking about pigs and potatoes. But longest chat was about the provision of a renal dialysis service at Welshpool - one of my highest hobby-horses.
Next stop was the RSH's Renal Dialysis Centre. Despite campaigning for a satellite unit at Welshpool Hospital for many years, I'd never actually seen a dialysis station. So I met Nonny, a super efficient nurse who runs the 26 station centre, and she showed me around. It was the quietness that struck me. Some dialysers were sleeping. Some were reading. Four hours is a long time to sit in the same place. And of course there were people there that I knew. I left in deep thought, realising that these people would not be alive for long without this service.
But I left the Royal Shrewsbury with anger in my heart - anger at the total idiocy that is constructing walls between the NHS in Wales and the NHS in England. Almost all of the people in Montgomeryshire travel to Shrewsbury for dialysis. Their consultants are based at Shrewsbury. For years we assumed that Welshpool would be a satellite unit of Shrewsbury - but no. We now have devolution - and the walls are being built. The Welshpool unit must now be linked to a Welsh hospital. No good moan about it. I learned years ago that politics is not always consistent with common sense.
I've two emotions about the Assembly Government's actions in respect of this issue. Firstly, appreciation for the commitment by Minister, Edwina Hart to increasing the provision of renal dialysis in Wales. But secondly, anger that the interpretation of devolution as the development of separate NHS's in England and Wales has caused so much delay. But it does seem that at long last, things are moving. After a deeply frustrating reluctance to keep people informed about what's happening, delivering uncertainty, the 'Project Board' has calle a meeting of 'stakeholders' on March 19th in Welshpool. I will attend on behalf of the Kidney Wales Foundation - Powys Branch, which I helped set up a few years ago. I fully expect us to be given the date of 'late summer' as the start date for the temporary unit, and 2112 as the delivery of the permanent unit - with either six or eight stations. After today's visit, its a formal announcement I'll enjoy hearing. Will plan for a celebration that night.