Community nurses made a special visit to the Tata steelworks in Port Talbot to show their support for employees, and to highlight the harmful impact on health and wellbeing should the plant close.
A dozen nurses including district nurses employed by Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and local Marie Curie nurses went to the plant on Friday in a display of solidarity.
“This is a close community and we all stand together in times of need, supporting each other,” said Lynne Driscoll, the health board’s operational lead for district nursing in Neath Port Talbot.
“The health of our community is already greatly affected by deprivation, so much so that even the threat of closure has a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of workers, their families and the community,” she said.
The nurses were joined by health board chief executive Paul Roberts, who said closure or a significant reduction in jobs at the steelworks was “a major issue” for NHS services.
“The potential health implications for the communities we serve are huge – job losses are a serious physical and mental health issue,” he said.
“This could also have a devastating impact for our staff – many colleagues have family members employed in the steelworks and associated businesses and there is a sense of real fear for the future,” he added.
Steelworks closure would affect community health, warn nurses
Mr Roberts said the health board was setting up a group to plan for the potential consequences of major job losses.
It has also asked Swansea University to undertake research, including reviewing evidence of what interventions work best, to inform the body’s response to the situation.
Health board chair Andrew Davies, who is a member of the Welsh government’s Tata Taskforce, said it had responded to previous announcements of job losses at the Port Talbot steelworks by putting extra support in place for those affected and their families.
He said this would happen again, if and when this became necessary. Meanwhile, he said he had been in touch with other health boards to co-ordinate an “all-Wales response”.