A shake-up of hospital services in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan over the next decade could see virtual appointments and x-rays in GP surgeries.
Health bosses want to build on the changes seen during the coronavirus pandemic to push more clinical services into local communities and away from large hospitals.
A wide-ranging programme is being drawn up by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, about how its services — delivered by 14,000 staff and costing £1.4 billion each year — could change over the next 10 years.
The plans include delivering clinical services closer to home where possible, to avoid the need for patients to travel into traditional hospitals like the University Hospital of Wales (UHW).
Abigail Harris, executive director of strategic planning at Cardiff and Vale UHB, said: “We have identified a need to change the way we deliver services in order to provide high-quality, safe and sustainable care for the future.
“We are proposing a number of transformations to our clinical services, focusing on providing more care closer to home wherever possible and redeveloping our two major acute hospital sites as centres of excellence.”
The Shaping Our Future Clinical Services programme is currently out for public consultation, and the health board is looking to hear from the public about their views and priorities.
An online survey is open until Monday, April 19, on the website shapingourfuturewellbeing.com.
The programme includes a major plan for a “renewed” UHW.
The hospital, at the Heath in Cardiff, is the largest in Wales with space for 1,000 beds.
It was built in the 1960s, and as healthcare has changed massively since then, the building no longer has the space required.
Due to this the health board want to build a “state-the-art” hospital, that is more sustainable and energy efficient and “suitable for the mid-21st century”, according to a brochure published about the programme.
As well as changing practices in healthcare, the health of the 500,000 people living in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan is changing too.
The population of the area covered by the health board is ageing, increasingly suffering long-term illness and mental ill health, and is getting lonelier.
These factors are adding to the need to redesign clinical services, and should impact the results of the new plans.
Emergency care is one service which could see changes.
Examples include new practices brought in due to Covid-19, like calling ahead of visiting the hospital to reduce waiting times; or completing assessments online before an appointment.
Virtual appointments are another new practice that could be here to stay, as the programme could recommend some appointments over to be held over video-call where appropriate — but still with face-to-face services if that’s better for each individual patient.
Elsewhere, some elective clinical services could be moved away from hospitals like UHW and into local communities.
This could mean having x-rays for example in health and wellbeing centres.
Ms Harris added: “Our Shaping Our Future Clinical Services programme is a fantastic opportunity for members of the public to learn more about our vision and have their say on our direction of travel as we develop our plans.
“I would like to encourage people to get involved in the programme and play their part before the end of the engagement period on April 19.”
Full details of the plans can be found on the website shapingourfuturewellbeing.com.