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Cancer care investment promise

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Commitment from Health Broad: Major improvements need to happen to give cancer patients the care they deserve

Commitment from Health Broad: Major improvements need to happen to give cancer patients the care they deserve

RADICAL plans to change the way in which cancer services are delivered at Withybush will mean that 24-hour inpatient paediatric care will be unlikely ever to return to Withybush Hospital. The planned reshuffle of cancer services sets out that Oncology will stay in its current location within the hospital building, whereas Ward 10 will move to Ward 9. Under that scheme, Paediatrics would move to Ward 14 and the Cancer Day Unit (CDU) to the current Ward 10 location.

There is now a 73-week programme from start to finish for the service reconfiguration. The projected costs of the move to Ward 9 is believed to be in excess of £880K, while the CDU projected cost is in excess of £900K. Last week, the Board unveiled a second project board for its plans for the new Cancer facilities at the Hospital. That unveiling took place ahead of a meeting of a stakeholder group that discussed the Board’s new development plans. Speaking afterwards, Chris Evans- Thomas MBE of Adams Bucketful of Hope said: “This is the biggest statement you could wish for this Christmas!

I asked for a sign the same size as the one that was erected to announce the Kidney Dialysis Unit and bingo! – it was up in plenty of time for Christmas. Thank you Sue Lewis and Paul Hawkins. Things are definitely moving!” Lyn Neville, of Pembrokeshire Cancer Support, told The Herald: “I am concerned that staff have still not been asked for their views and advice on a move for CDU. “Surely that have the knowledge and expertise to know best what is required of a new unit. I know we are at planning stage but there is no point drawing plans if you do not know exactly what is required of them. I hope the Health Board allow the staff to be involved in the project.”

Sue Lewis County Director & Commissioner said: “This was a really positive meeting. The new development is supported by the ongoing efforts of our local charities and the generous donations of the people of Pembrokeshire and we will be working in partnership to deliver the new service. Work on the project will commence in 2015.” The Board also announced that it and fundraising groups are meeting on a regular basis to progress these developments in areas including recruitment and retention of specialist staff; and reviewing other modern healthcare facilities developed with community and patient representatives, such as the Renal Unit at the hospital.

The two cancer charities have also celebrated their own recent successes. Lyn Neville, Pembrokeshire Cancer Support Coordinator was recently awarded the Pembroke Dock Town Council Award of Merit and Bucketful of Hope organised a well-attended Christmas Ball, which has raised further charitable funds for the group. The erection of the Board and the announcement of the new plans’ scope, follows a recent Welsh Government announcement that it would not create a specialist fund for cancer drugs in Wales, as the NHS has in England.

In November, Health Minister Mark Drakeford rejected the need for a cancer drugs fund, saying the system in the Welsh NHS was ‘fair to all patients, is clinically driven, provides good outcomes at a cost effective price – and that is the right way to do it.’ On that occasion, the minister was being challenged by the Conservatives to respond to a nearly 100,000-signature petition calling for one to be set up in Wales. Instead, Welsh patients suffering from all illnesses, including cancer, must apply for health board funding for the drugs through the Individual Patient Funding Request (IPFR) system.

Research by the Rarer Cancers Foundation in 2013 found patients in Wales are four times less likely to receive new treatment than those in England. In addition, the Welsh Government has come in for strong criticism on the issue of cancer patients’ waiting time for treatment. In May, the Welsh Government changed the way that cancer waiting times were calculated, conceding that early intervention was vital to successfully tackle the disease. However, cancer waiting time targets have been missed every month since 2008, continue to be missed, despite the Welsh Government’s attempt to adjust how waiting times are reckoned.

Plaid Cymru’s Elin Jones, the Shadow Health Minister told The Herald: “The Labour Welsh Government cancer target is still not being met. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment can make a vital difference to people with cancer, but in Wales too many patients are having to wait too long. “The First Minister promised that the Welsh Government would meet its cancer treatment target by October 2013, but more than a year later that still hasn’t happened. Major improvements need to happen if we are to give cancer patients the care they deserve. This must start with strong leadership from the Welsh Government.”

In the Hywel Dda Health Board area, the percentage of cancer patients’ starting treatment within 62 days of urgent referral is 87.6%, a marginal but significant improvement on the national average of 85.1%. The number of patients starting treatment in 31 days on a non-urgent referral route is slightly worse than the Welsh national average at 96.6%.

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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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