Monday, March 19, 2007

Family health centre for Cimla and Pelenna

Pontardawe has a substantial, modern, health centre replacing the prefabs ruined by the floods of the storms of Spring 1998. There is to be a new
Dulais Valley Primary Care Centre. Why isn't there a health centre serving Cimla and the Pelenna valley?

A bit of history

In the mid-1990s, Councillor John Warman organised a campaign for a general practitioner to be located in Cimla. A massive petition was raised, and hard work was rewarded with a doctor prepared to make a go of a local surgery. Unfortunately, he was unable to build up a solid list of patients, as too many people, faced with a choice of leaving the list of a GP in Neath, and an untried practice (they couldn't register on two lists), preferred to stay with the doctor they knew. Therefore, the business (a GP surgery is a small business) failed.

So what has changed?

Well, a hundred or more extra households on the Cimla, for a start. But even in 1999, Cimla residents (as part of the Agenda 21 consultations) were again calling for a local health centre. They were fully aware of the earlier failure of the GP surgery.
Then there is the difficulty that Pelenna residents are facing: the ending of a regular surgery in the valley. Most are registered with doctors in Cwmavon. However, the young, very old and the infirm cannot drive there. If they can't get lifts, then they have to rely on two bus-routes with often a long lay-over between services.

A possible future

In the wake of the Harold Shipman affair, the single-handed GP practice is virtually a thing of the past.
There is a trend in the Welsh NHS towards salaried health professionals. A health centre does not have to run as a business, and can afford to take the long view. Modern equipment and computer facilities can be shared by nurses and doctors.
It makes sense to provide a health centre in the Cimla which is directly accessible from Pelenna.

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