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Pembroke Dock: Local who lost two friends to drugs promotes government inquiry

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Drugs and alcohol: Tell the government what you think

Drugs and alcohol: Tell the government what you think

A LOCAL man who lost two friends to drugs overdoses is appealing for the people of Pembrokeshire to participate in a government inquiry into alcohol and substance misuse before it’s too late.

The Welsh Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee is conducting a review into the recent surge of ‘legal highs’ in the country, as well as the wider issues of alcohol and substance misuse, and wants to hear the public’s views by January 9.

The committee, made up of ten Assembly Members, is inviting public responses on substance misuse, the law surrounding it and also the support available, and will be publishing its report later this month.

Sean McGhan, aged 25 from Pembroke Dock, suffered two bereavements when his friend Anthony Gammer died on July 26, 2013, aged 27, after taking a concoction of drugs including cannabis, dihydrocodeine, ketamine and diazepam.

Sean McGhan: Urging locals to participate in inquiry

Sean McGhan: Urging locals to participate in inquiry

Mr McGhan’s other close friend, Paul Dalling, died in 2013 at the untimely age of 24 after brewing a deadly tea using poppy seeds. The DJ from Milford Haven thought the drink would induce a pleasant drowsy effect, however after consuming a pint of the concoction his central nervous system shut down and he died in bed.

The inquest into Mr Dalling’s death heard that he drank the infusion and smoked cannabis before going for a night out with friends. The coroner’s conclusion into the unusual death, which warned of the dangerous effects of poppy tea, garnered national press attention when it was published last year.

Mr McGhan believes there is a strong case to legalise certain drugs, to ensure their safety, and says he thinks that providing better education to youngsters would undoubtedly save lives.

Explaining to the Herald why he is so keen for everyone to participate in the Government’s inquiry, Mr McGhan said: “Every experience with drugs is important to the overall decision as to how it’s all governed. We all have our own unique views and many have direct experiences that need to be heard and respected by the government, not just the habitual users but the medicinal users too. For example, my suffering Nan could be using cannabis if not for all the stigma resulting in a huge lack of research.

He added: “Cancer sufferer’s medicines are being used by kids because the patients need money to buy a working medicine like cannabis. Weed is everywhere anyway, just expensive and blatantly funds the black market even here in Pembrokeshire. Hard drugs are being used because users aren’t getting high off the now low quality commercial cannabis, nor are they educated not to use drugs. If it’s blatant to us but not the government maybe we should point it out to them with this unique opportunity they have offered us!”

Tragic: Anthony Gammer, died in 2013

Tragic: Anthony Gammer, died in 2013

“The government are running out of excuses on keeping the drugs stigma going.  It’s true most people who don’t use drugs have absolutely no idea about them but those who use, or used them, know all too well of the dangers that follow drug use.”

McGhan said: “Anyone can send an email to the Welsh Government by January 9 by emailing hsccommittee@wales.gov.uk or you can write to The Clerk, Health and Social Care Committee, National Assembly for Wales, CF99 1NA.”

The terms of reference for the inquiry being conducted in Wales are, to consider:

  • the impacts of alcohol and substance misuse on people in Wales, including young people and university students; older people; homeless people; and people in police custody or prisons;
  •  the effectiveness of current Welsh Government policies on tackling alcohol and substance misuse and any further action that may be required;
  •  the capacity and availability of local services across Wales to raise awareness and deal with the impact of the harms associated with alcohol and substance misuse.
Died after drinking poppy tea: Paul Dalling

Died after drinking poppy tea: Paul Dalling

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: “The National Assembly for Wales’ Health and Social Care Committee is a group of ten Assembly Members from across Wales who represent the four political parties who make up the Assembly. The Committee’s job is to hold the Welsh Government to account on health and social care within Wales, including finance, administration, policy and legislation.”

The spokesman added: “We have recently been doing some work on new psychoactive substances which are sometimes called legal highs – our report will be out in the New Year. We want to build on that work, and so we are now looking into issues of alcohol and substance misuse. As part of our inquiry, we want to know about the effect that alcohol and substance misuse has on people in Wales, how well these issues are currently being tackled, and whether the right local services are in place across Wales to help people and make sure that they know about the possible harms. Giving us your views will help us make sure that we can take into account how alcohol and substance misuse affects real people in Wales on a daily basis.”

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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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