A SAME-DAY care unit in Llandudno has remained shut since staff were moved to a nearby Covid hospital at the start of the pandemic.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board closed its ambulatory care unit (ACU) at Llandudno General Hospital during the pandemic as part of plans to provide staff and resources at Llandudno Rainbow Hospital. The ambulatory care unit offers same-day care assessment, diagnosis and treatment to patients in areas including cardiology, respiratory and rheumatology.

The Rainbow hospital, at Venue Cymru, which did not receive in-patient treatment as expected but was instead used for maternity care, vaccinations and other outpatient services, was decommissioned in May after its additional oxygen supply was no longer required.

The continued closure of the ACU was confirmed this week in response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request submitted by Janet Finch-Saunders, MS for Aberconwy.

Mrs Finch-Saunders said she is concerned the health board will not be able to tackle a backlog of cases and patient waiting times if pre-pandemic services are not resumed.

Betsi said the ambulatory care unit had previously received “low” demand, adding that a review of how it will resume services at the unit alongside changes to its care of elderly patients is ongoing.

But Janet Finch-Saunders, MS for Aberconwy, called for the health board to consider reopening the unit as it faces the worst patient waiting times in Wales, with 64.9 per cent patients seen within the four-hour target.

She said: “Whilst I fully recognise that the pandemic required the relocation of staff to essential services, as well as the closure of certain wards to ensure the health and safety of patients and staff, with the restarting of other frontline health services now underway, an urgent review of Ambulatory Care Unit must take place so that its unique offering can be restored.

“Given that Betsi Cadwaladr has been besieged by problems, it should now look to build on this plan by looking to reopen a unit which could assist in addressing the waiting list issue in the short-term.”

The health board had previously closed minor injury units at Dolgellau and Tywyn hospitals in March last year to manage its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Tywyn unit remains closed, while Dolgellau has operated for five days a week since last month.

Bethan Jones, central area director for BCUHB, said: “The ACU at Llandudno Hospital closed at the start of the pandemic to ensure there was a sufficient number of staff to care for patients on the wards and to support the development of Ysbyty Enfys Llandudno (Llandudno Rainbow Hospital).

“While the ACU was a valued service, the numbers of patients we saw coming through the unit were low.

“We are now reviewing how the unit will work alongside other changes to how we manage the care of our frail patients as part of a joined-up model across North Wales.”