Posted: Sat 11th May 2024

Disappointing Blow for Gwynedd as Wales Air Ambulance Centres to Close in 2026

North Wales news and information

A decision to shut the Wales Air Ambulance centres at Caernarfon and Welshpool in place of a single hub has been branded a “disappointing, devastating and heartbreaking blow” for Gwynedd.
Councillor for Y Groeslon Llio Elenid Owen made the comments during Cyngor Gwynedd’s full council meeting, held in Caernarfon, on Thursday, May 9.
Cllr Owen, whose ward includes the Dinas Dinlle air ambulance base, called for a “full intervention and investigation” into the decision.
The new service is set to start in 2026 after the NHS Joint Commissioning Committee recently voted that the Welshpool and Caernarfon bases will shut.
A new site will be opened centrally in North Wales. In a notice of motion, Cllr Owen said: “The decision by the Welsh National Health Service Joint Commissioning Committee and health boards to close and centralise the Welsh Air Ambulance centres of Caernarfon (Dinas Dinlle) and Welshpool is a devastating blow to the whole of Gwynedd.
“It is another example of how Wales’ central services ignore the aspirations and demands of rural Wales.”
She also called on the council to “oppose the decision, and to ask for full intervention and investigation into the decision by the Welsh Government”.
A total of 57 Gwynedd councillors voted in favour of the notice of motion.
She told the meeting: “Eighteen months ago you voted unanimously to call on the relevant bodies to keep the service running.
“But since then, the news has been disappointing, heartbreaking, a devastating blow to Gwynedd.”
She added it had been “difficult to understand how such a decision was made”.
Moving the service from Dinas Dinlle and Welshpool would have “far reaching consequences for our rural communities,” she said.
“There are no assurances or guarantee we will not receive a second class service,” she added, calling for more information to be made available.
She said: “The air ambulance is an emergency service that can get to places where vehicles can’t get”.
She questioned how a more road-based service would improve the situation for Gwynedd, with its rural winding roads.
She said: “It is already challenging for ambulances that struggle on the roads.”
She said the decision had been a “step too far” and “potentially one putting lives at risk”.
She described the “great work” of the air ambulance as being “invaluable,” noting that the work of the Wales Air Ambulance and its charity was “very close to local people’s hearts”.
“There is strong support locally to keep these services local,” she added.
Dolbenmaen ward councillor Stephen Churchman agreed it was “a very important issue”.
He urged his fellow councillors and members of the public to sign a petition on the Welsh Government website.
He said: “To date there are 7,684 signatures, as of this minute, the petitions committee at the Senedd will have to consider the content at 10,000 signatures, whether to debate this or not.
“It is likely it will be debated, it’ll only take a few days to get to 10,000, the petition is available on the Senedd website, it is very easy to do.
“Get your friends to do it, share it on local and social media, the more people who sign it, the better. This affects every person in Gwynedd, and in fact everyone in Wales.”
Cllr Menna Baines also called for more information about what service would be in place in future.
“We don’t have the evidence and details, it is all a bit vague at the minute and questions are not being answered.”
Cllr Gwynfor Owen, who represented the rural, coastal wards of Llanbedr and Harlech, added: “The service was so important to my ward and the western area.”
A review of the service found centralising the bases would mean about 140 more emergency calls could be answered each year and more use would be made of the specialist doctors.

By Dale Spridgeon – Local Democracy Reporter



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