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National Assembly approval of Final Budget 2015-16

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jane_huttFINANCE and Government Business Minister Jane Hutt has welcomed the National Assembly’s approval of the Welsh Government’s ‘Priorities for Wales’ Final Budget 2015-16.

The Final Budget 2015-16 will safeguard key public services and boost the economy via investment in infrastructure despite year on year cuts to the Welsh Government Budget by the UK Government. It includes:

• £425m of extra funding over two years to the Welsh NHS in order to deliver high quality, sustainable health services. Together with the £70m revenue funding allocated to health as a result of the Autumn Statement, this means:

• Increased investment in our Welsh NHS by more than half a billion pounds over two years; • Protecting schools funding by 1% above changes to the Welsh budget overall, meaning an additional £106m will have been provided to schools over this Spending Review period;

• Supporting children, families and deprived communities, including protecting funding for Flying Start, doubling the number of children benefi tting to 36,000; • Continued investment in a range of employment programmes, including funding through Jobs Growth Wales. Jobs Growth Wales is exceeding its targets. The programme has now created almost 16,500 job opportunities with almost 13,500 young people fi lling these jobs.

• Signifi cant capital investment for infrastructure with over £100m to support the priorities in the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan, including £11m for immediate investment in 2014-15.

• A focus on preventive measures and early intervention – directing resources to measures that help avoid problems occurring in the fi rst place, interventions which will address the pressures on public services and achieving a better quality of life for current and future generations. Faced with reducing budgets the Welsh Government has also used innovative approaches to support vital infrastructure investment across Wales, including the recently announced £500m fund for the next stage of the 21st Century Schools Programme and £150m for fl ood and coastal risk management.

Welcoming the vote, Jane Hutt told The Herald:“Our Final Budget has been shaped by our Priorities for Wales and refl ects the increasingly tough decisions we have had to take due to reducing budgets. Despite a real terms reduction in our budget of about 9% over this Assembly term, we have done everything we can to mitigate the impact on public services and communities and to provide a ‘safety net’ for the most vulnerable and hardest hit and to boost investment in our infrastructure vital for a balanced economic recovery.

“We are confi dent that our spending plans will support us to deliver our priorities within the funding available and have published a responsible and sustainable budget, which is also underpinned by our principles of social justice and fairness. It supports key investment in health and young people, protecting services that people the length and breadth of Wales rely on.”

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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