THIS week in our full council meeting of all Monmouthshire councillors the Conservative group is putting forward a motion condemning the local health board’s plans to close the Minor Injuries Unit overnight at Nevill Hall Hospital.

I’m hoping it will attract the support of councillors from other parties too so we can send a clear message that we do not support the downgrading of the health facilities that our residents rely on.

Recently, health board bosses appeared at a council committee to answer questions about their plans and it was clear that this closure is being considered not to improve patient care but as a kneejerk reaction to the mid-year budget overspend.

To me it makes no sense for patients from the north of Monmouthshire and parts of other neighbouring council areas to travel all the way to the Royal Gwent and even potentially passing Nevill Hall and the Grange.

I would be concerned that this move would actually increase pressures on the Grange because some patients may head there instead.

For a health board supposed to serve all residents in Monmouthshire, Newport, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly, these changes mean that the only minor injuries unit open overnight will be the Royal Gwent in Newport – hardly central or accessible to the majority of residents in South East Wales. We’ve already lost Accident & Emergency and maternity services from Nevill Hall and only last year saw the downgrading of Monmouth and Chepstow ambulance stations. What next?

It feels wrong that this decision is being proposed and can be taken by unelected and unaccountable health board bosses stripping back services that residents rely on, clearly without public support.

They have to account to one person for their decisions–the Health Minister in the Welsh Government, who as far as I can tell, has been completely silent on the matter.

I think it’s vital that councillors send a clear message of opposition to the health board’s plans and to the Welsh Government.

We will not stand by and watch our health services be reduced.

My ward colleague Cllr Jayne McKenna and I have set up a petition for residents opposed to the overnight closure of the minor injuries unit at Nevill Hall and would urge everyone to sign it.

We never know when a family member or friend may need this service. Let’s do all we can to try to save it.