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North Wales health board to be named after nurse Betsi Cadwaladr

A UNIFIED health authority to cover the whole of North Wales will be named after a 19th Century nurse who made a name for herself during the Crimean War.

But that name wasn’t Florence Nightingale – it was Betsi Cadwaladr.

A Welsh Assembly spokesman describes her as ‘a pioneering nurse’ whose name ‘is synonymous with the values of the NHS’.

But critics of the amalgamated body – and of its name – say Ms Cadwaladr, who was born in Bala, ‘has no relevance to local people’.

They also say the health board is too large and too remote from local needs.

The consultation period for the proposed changes to the NHS in Wales comes to an end on Wednesday.

Assembly Health Minister Edwina Hart proposed transforming Wales’ current 22 local health boards into seven when she was appointed in 2007.

Proposals mean Flintshire, along side Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire, Gwynedd and Wrexham, will form the new Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board, the headquarters for which have not yet been decided.

Betsi Cadwaladr worked as a nurse in the Crimean War, alongside the more famous Florence Nightingale.

However, her name is causing controversy across Flintshire, with many believing she has no relevance to the county.

Mold town councillor Carolyn Cattermoul said: “The name of the proposed health board is wholly inappropriate and has no relevance to local people.

“The geographical area is too large and there is a genuine concern the new health boards will become remote from local needs and local councils.”

A Welsh Assembly spokesman said: “The name Betsi Cadwaladr was proposed because she was a pioneering nurse who contributed much to the healthcare of soldiers during the 19th Century.

“Her name is synonymous with the values of the NHS. She was from North Wales and it is therefore appropriate to recognise her valuable contribution to healthcare.”

Concerns have also been raised by the public, worried about no longer receiving health care in England. According to county councillors, a third of Flintshire residents currently receive healthcare in Chester.

Social services Cllr Carol Ellis said: “I propose two health boards in North Wales so we can maintain our strong healthcare links with England.

“We want to make sure we maintain those links with the Countess of Chester, as well as Liverpool and Manchester hospitals. It cannot be called a local health board when it’s just one body serving the whole of North Wales.”

The Assembly spokesman said: “Patients will continue to receive access to the same healthcare services, whether in Wales or England, as part of the reorganisation.”

If approved, the plans will come into effect on October 1, 2009.