Picture caption from left: Cllr Liz Roberts, Llais chief executive Geoff Ryall-Harvey, Llyr Gruffydd MS, Dyfed Edwards and Carol Shillabeer of Betsi Cadwaladr health board.
The future of primary care in the Betws-y-Coed area is looking more promising after a packed public meeting was held in the village earlier this week.
The meeting, organised jointly by local councillor Liz Roberts, Plaid Cymru MS Llyr Gruffydd, Betws-y-Coed Community Council and Llais, the patients’ voice, also heard from Betsi Cadwaladr health board’s chair and new chief executive. Both pledged to ensure that the practice would remain open and that nobody would have to move from the practice as a result. There were about 150 in attendance.
The meeting was organised after the GPs in the practice announced they were intending to give up the NHS contract at the end of April 2024.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales Senedd Member, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who came to our public meeting to discuss the future of the GP practice in Betws-y-coed. Once Liz and I understood that the GPs were giving up the contract, we contacted Llais (formerly the North Wales Community Health Council) to see what could be done to keep the local surgery open in this rural community. We all felt that, given the next available options were Llanrwst or Cerrigydrudion, that this was key to ensuring that everyone has fair access to an essential service.
“The fact that both the health board chair Dyfed Edwards and chief executive Carol Shillabeer were willing to attend was, in itself, an indication of how important this was. But it was particularly heartening to hear them confirm that the health board was in the process of inviting new contractors to run the practice. This is welcome news and their willingness, if necessary, to take it over as a salaried practice until a new agreement is in place is also encouraging.
“Potential new contractors have until Friday to express an interest. We’ll hopefully find out next week whether there has been a positive response. My thanks go to Cllr Liz Roberts, Llais North Wales and Cyngor Cymuned Betws Y Coed Community Council for co-organising the meeting and to the Chair and Chief Executive of Betsi Cadwaladr for attending. It was a clear sign of their commitment to this important service.”
Geoff Ryall-Harvey, Regional Director of Llais North Wales who chaired the public meeting, added: “We were pleased to hear that people said that they were listened to and were able to raise their concerns in person with the most senior people in the health board. We will continue to work to make sure that patients of the practice are kept informed of developments and can give their views and raise any further questions they may have.”
Plaid Cymru’s local councillor Liz Roberts said: “Betws y Coed GP practice has always been a well-regarded practice and it was so pleasing to hear the Chief Executive officer, Chairman and Associate Director of Primary Care at the health board share that a GP practice shall remain in the village and continue to serve the numerous communities in the upper Conwy Valley. It was a most pleasing message.”