Loss of public sector jobs in north west must be opposed: MSs react to Ambulance Centre move

Members of the Senedd have criticised plans to move the Clinical Contact Centre from its current base in Llanfairfechan. The centre, currently located at the Bryn y Neuadd Hospital in Llanfairfechan is to be moved to Tŷ Elwy in St. Asaph.


But according to MSs in Gwynedd and Anglesey, the move will lead to financial, logistical and geographical barriers for current staff members working at the Llanfairfechan base. Furthermore, they claim the move will have a detrimental linguistic and cultural effect on the service provided by the Welsh Ambulance Trust.


Clinical Contact Centres are home to 999 call handlers and emergency medical dispatchers, and according to three north Wales MSs the move will deter staff members commuting from their constituencies from working in the service.


Siân Gwenllian MS and Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, who represent Gwyned in the Senedd, alongside Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, the representative for Ynys Môn have written to the Welsh Ambulance Service urging them to reconsider the move. They have also asked the Welsh Government Health Minister Eluned Morgan to intervene. They are yet to receive a reply from either.


According to Siân Gwenllian MS who represents Arfon in the Senedd, the decision will affect her constituents in Arfon who currently work at the centre and will also lead to the loss of a significant number of jobs from the area.


“The proposals to move the Clinical Contact Centre from Llanfairfechan is part of a trend of eastwards relocation of jobs related to the health services.


“Public sector jobs are vitally important to the economy of the north west of Wales and the loss of those jobs must be opposed.


“It feels as if the whole matter of relocation has been taken without proper consideration as to the long term economic impact and to the effect that such a move would have on the bilingual service currently available.”


Whilst staff members and union representatives at the current site recognise the need for a new location as current facilities are deficient, they claim the move would add 50 miles to the commute of some staff members. Furthermore, they claim the inevitable financial burden would disincentivise workers in north west of Wales.


Those comments have been echoed by Mabon ap Gwynfor who represents Dwyfor Meirionnydd in the Senedd:


“Relocating the Welsh Ambulance Clinical call centre to St Asaph will have a negative impact on around 100 staff members who live west of the current site in Llanfairfechan, including some from my Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency.


“This proposed move will have a significant adverse effect on staff at the lower end of the pay scale, who will face an additional financial burden to travel, at a time when many can ill afford to absorb such a hit on their household incomes.”


Staff members have also voiced their worries about the possible linguistic ramifications of the move. It is estimated that 66% of the current workforce speak or understand Welsh, but it is believed that an eastwards move would lead to a decline in Welsh speaking applicants. Of those Welsh-speaking staff currently based in Llanfairfechan, 72% live in Gwynedd or Ynys Môn. Siân Gwenllian MS has said she will write to Jeremy Miles as Minister for the Welsh Language to raise concerns.


In the letter to Jason Killens, Chief Executive of Welsh Ambulance the MSs claimed that estimated costs of relocation including staff travel costs would amount to over £250,000 over four years. The Members of the Senedd have also raised staff members’ wish that the centre be relocated to Welsh Government offices in Llandudno Junction. According to the workers this option would reduce the financial and logistical impacts of the move, as well as avoiding issues with the proposed site in St. Asaph including a lack of parking space.


Rhun ap Iorwerth, the Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn which is home to many staff members added:


“I’m very concerned about the proposals to relocate the Clinical Contact Centre from Llanfairfechan to St Asaph, due to the direct impact it will have on my constituents that are employed at the centre in terms of significantly further commutes to work and the additional costs associated with having to travel further. It also raises questions about the possible associated impact on the number of bilingual staff members should the relocation go ahead.


“That’s why my fellow Plaid Cymru Members and I have written to WAST, and to the Health Minister, asking for the proposal to be looked at again to find a more suitable option, such as the suggested building in Llandudno Junction which would be a far more viable relocation. I will be meeting with the Welsh Ambulance Service Chief Executive soon and will be looking to raise this issue with him then too.”


Sophie Roberts works at the base in Llanfairfechan. As well as the linguistic and logistical repercussion of the move, she says many staff members have practical concerns around childcare.


“My main concern is not only the additional travel time to St Asaph, but how this move will affect our Welsh speaking patients. Many of the staff who speak Welsh are from Gwynedd and Anglesey, and there is a good chance that the service will lose a high percentage of those because of the extra distance.


“So many elderly patients in rural Wales will lose the ability to communicate with the 999 service in their mother tongue and it is a shame.


“It will also affect childcare for many young families who work for the service. There is not a single childcare provider in Gwynedd that opens before 7:30, and in order to get to St Asaph in time to start work, many of us will have to leave our homes before 7am.


“This will have a significant impact on childcare arrangements for the families who work for the ambulance service and could ultimately lead to the decision for many to leave the service and pursue a career closer to home.”

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  • Osian Owen
    published this page in News 2023-12-08 14:24:07 +0000

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