Hundreds of people are set to march from Barry Hospital to a rally in King Square to defend the threatened Sam Davies acute rehabilitation ward from closure.
Barry healthcare workers will be joined by patients’ families, residents and the first person born after the NHS was founded, Aneira Thomas, at the rally on Saturday (October 5).
The Sam Davies Ward has 23-beds for older people and its rehabilitation assistance includes helping those who have had strokes and respite care for dementia patients.
But Cardiff and Vale University Health Board wants to close the ward as it says it wants people to receive care in their communities instead.
Health board chiefs have that argued patients’ conditions can deteriorate if they stay in hospital for longer than necessary with reduced mobility leading to muscle wastage.
But 12,000 people have signed a petition, organised by trade union Unison Cymru Wales, calling on the health board to save the ward.
Mrs Thomas, who will address the rally, said: “The NHS I was born into knew the value of quality health services caring for local communities.
“Closing the Sam Davies ward and forcing acute rehabilitation patients and families miles away to Llandough hospital and the Heath is the opposite of those founding ideals.
“The health board’s proposals have caused a great deal of worry for Barry people. Healthcare workers in the Sam Davies ward are compassionate and dedicated and it’s simply not right to close it. This is a vital service.”
Patients at the Sam Davies ward would receive their care at either University Hospital Llandough or closer to home.
But concerns have been raised, including from Vale of Glamorgan councillors, that patients from the rural Vale could be forced to travel to Llandough or Cardiff for their care.
The health board is holding a consultation on the plans until November 1.
South Glamorgan Community Health Council, an NHS watchdog, is asking people to respond to the engagement process either with health board or by contacting the CHC by firstname.lastname@example.org or by post.
Stuart Egan, Unison’s Cardiff and Vale health branch chairman said: “The health board’s plans have been a mess from the start. They didn’t speak to Barry Hospital staff and they didn’t consult with the local community.
“The Sam Davies ward has been praised by Carers Trust South East Wales as a “shining example of great person-centred care, for both patients and their carers. They really go the extra mile…” It beggars belief that the health board want to close it.
“12,000 local people have sent an overwhelming signal they are opposed to the plans by signing UNISON’s #SaveSamDavies petition.
“Please come and join Barry healthcare workers on Saturday’s march and rally. Together we can prevent the ward from closing.”
The health board says there is evidence that patients, especially the elderly and frail, will clinically decondition whilst they are in an acute hospital bed with reduced mobility.
It has pledged that, if the plans go ahead, patients would receive “appropriate support” in their own home.
A spokeswoman for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: “Cardiff and Vale UHB is committed to providing care and services appropriate for the needs of our patients. We are currently engaging with staff on improving the pathway for Frail Older People which will maintain the individual’s independence and improve their recovery journey to get them home more quickly.
“Part of this engagement involves reviewing the bed capacity at Barry Hospital for older patients so they receive the appropriate care pathway for their needs and spend less time in a hospital setting.”
Matt Discombe covers Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan as part of the BBC's Local Democracy Reporter project, which is aimed at enhancing reporting from local authorities across the UK.