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Centralising care causes Carmarthen chaos



swatGLANGWILI Hospital , Carmarthen is creaking under the strain of delivering services on its already crowded site. Parking at West Wales General Hospital is chaotic and little thought has been given to accommodating those with relatives who need long term care and who do not have an endless supply of cash to pay for overnight stays in hotels. Social media abounds with the stories of many Pembrokeshire parents who have been less than impressed with the services provided for their sick or injured children and are calling for the return of 24 hour paediatric care – as a minimum – to Haverfordwest.

We spoke with health campaigner David Williams and young mum Jamie-lee Irving about their experiences at West Wales General Hospital. “The truth about the safety net” The transfer of services from Haverfordwest to Carmarthen has caused and continues to cause serious problems at West Wales General Hospital with no end in sight, as the Board continues to force more services away from Pembrokeshire and up to Carmarthen. Before services were moved, Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford promised a “robust safety net” would be in place before services were transferred.

Earlier this year, we revealed that Mr Drakeford’s idea of a safety net was a solitary “dedicated” ambulance for which staff– at that time – had not been recruited. Since that time, the Board has transferred 24 hour paediatric care from Haverfordwest, again with the re-assurance that service levels would not be affected and patients would experience little or no change in their experience of care. Ina letter to a local health campaigner, Mark Drakeford has claimed that a “park and ride” scheme will alleviate problems at the cramped Carmarthen site.

A letter to the minister

 David Williams of Pembrokeshire Health Concern became aware of problems with overcrowding at Glangwili Hospital, and began compiling a dossier of issues that have arisen since the Board pressed on with its cuts to Pembrokeshire’s essential services. Mr Williams told The Herald: “I was recently in Carmarthen so drove around Glangwili to see for myself and it was unbelievable.

To mention a few issues, there were cars parked on yellow lines, half on and half off pavements, and double parked. “I mentioned this to shop keepers in Carmarthen town and they said it has become horrendous with many nurses going in 2 hours before shift just to try and get a parking space. “When consultant-led maternity services were moved, the refurbishment of existing wards at Carmarthen was incomplete. I have been told alterations will take up to 2 years to complete. “It seems pretty obvious that the Local Health Board pushed ahead with changes in the full knowledge that everything was not in place.”

Appalled, David wrote to Mark Drakeford and suggested he paid an unannounced visit to Glangwili to see the chaos for himself. Mark Drakeford’s reply revealed the extent of the Welsh Government’s indifference to the effects its policies are having and the truth about the much-lauded “safety net”. Far from there being a safety net in place, it is only now – after the transfer of vital services – that the Board and the Welsh Government are doing what Mark Drakeford assured everyone would be in place BEFORE that transfer took place.

After receiving Mark Drakeford’s response, David Williams wrote again to the Minister and told The Herald: “I went to Glangwili after car parking had been maximised. Judging by posts on Facebook pages many members of the public are unaware of social care vehicles or “dedicated discharge vehicles”; either because they are not informed by staff, or because none is available when needed.

“I am concerned that the Minister thinks that an arrangement that might be acceptable for visitors is also acceptable for women in labour, sick children, or the elderly & infirm. Those people, having been transported by car drivers appear to be expected, after a long journey of possibly over an hour’s length, to park at the showground, wait up to ½ an hour for bus and then another 15 minutes in bus to get to hospital. Alternatively those without cars take a train and bus ride from train station!” He continued: “Unfortunately the Minister did not reply to my question, ‘what went wrong?’.

Things were definitely not in place before moving services from Withybush as he promised and it now seems to be a catch up situation due to poor planning, no understanding of knock on effects and indecent haste in implementing.”

Drakeford’s response

“Following the decision to concentrate inpatient obstetric, neonatal and paediatric services at Glangwili Hospital, car parking at the site has been maximised, with additional spaces having been made available in October. “Hywel Dda University Health Board already has a number of measures in place to alleviate pressures on parking availability. For instance, at both Prince Philip and Glangwili Hospitals, there are social care vehicles, which transport patients for outpatient appointments as part of local partnership agreements.

Similarly there are ‘dedicated discharge vehicles’ available to support their Welsh Ambulance NHS Trust colleagues. “As part of the ongoing work of the Transport Accessibility Group, there is membership from the confederation of patient transport to ensure there is regular dialogue with bus companies to enhance local public transport provision. “Discussions have taken place between the Health Board and Carmarthenshire County Council, who are keen to progress this issue.

“The current Park and Ride facility at Nantyci (Carmarthen Showground) has 400 car parking spaces, of which there is 75% capacity available. A proposal has been put forward to extend the current Park and Ride service to Glangwili Hospital, to run every half hour from 7am to 6.30pm which will take approximately 15 minutes, at a cost of £1 per day for patients and members of staff (or free for those in receipt of concessionary fares).

“In addition, the proposal will also explore the greater use of rail links into Carmarthen and the potential to include the railway station with the proposed hospital shuttle service. “Given the cost elements involved, once the proposal has been fully worked up, it will be submitted to the health board’s strategy and planning committee for approval, and it is anticipated this will take place by the end of March 2015.

“The new central transport unit in the health board will be taking stock of all current car parking arrangements in the coming months. “I hope this response is helpful. Should you have any additional concerns, I am sure the health board would be happy to discuss them with you further.”


The Pembrokeshire Herald contacted one mum, after her story appeared on the SWAT Facebook page. Jamie-lee Irving is a young mum with twins. We asked Jamielee could we use her story, one of many on the SWAT Facebook page, as a representative of the many there. The below are her words, her story: “I have twins. One of which was very poorly earlier this year. “Over the past 4 weeks, one of the twins has been poorly pretty much constantly.

Initially being diagnosed with tonsillitis on Ward 9. “After suffering a febrile convulsion at home due to a soaring temp, I took him to A&E at Withybush by car. “After 2 courses of antibiotics, he seemed to be getting better. Towards the middle of last week (the week ending Sunday, Dec 14) he totally went off his food/milk. He wouldn’t take more than 2-3oz and every time he managed to take a feed, he was vomiting.

This went on for 3 days solid. “He awoke at 12:15am, Saturday morning (Dec 13), I assumed for a feed. He was very unhappy, grizzly and generally not himself. He took 2oz and I put him back to bed. He began coughing violently, so I picked him up: he vomited everywhere. “I rang care on call who advised me to go straight to Glangwili. As I was packing a bag, he was sat on the sofa with my husband. He had another febrile convulsion.

This time I rang 999 straight away. “Then the ‘Glangwili Experience’ began. “The ambulance arrived. The paramedic took my son’s temperature, which had gone up since I’d taken it myself. They were very blasé about the whole thing and not overly concerned about the situation. “I was told I’d have to go to Glangwili, which I knew anyway. So off we went. I was strapped to a stretcher holding my 10 month old baby.

Everyone knows how rough a ride is in an ambulance… I almost dropped him 4 times as he wasn’t secured at all! “His oxygen SATS were taken with an adult probe, and therefore showed a terribly low reading, causing me to panic. I was told not to worry as the probe wouldn’t give a true reading anyway!! “I have to ask: why use it in the first place if this is the case?!

“The paramedic fell asleep for a lot of the journey and the ambulance was ill-equipped to deal with a child, let alone a baby. “I cannot fault the night staff at Glangwili at all. “We were seen almost immediately, given a side room as soon as one was available and brought tea and coffee by the nurses. The rest of the night my son was observed and allowed to sleep. The changeover happened around 8:00am, though we hadn’t seen a doctor or nurse since 5am “We were left in a side room not knowing what was happening.

We only saw a nurse at 11:30am because I enquired about what was happening. “I was told three different things by three different doctors, and finally told – by the most awfully rude nurse I’ve ever met: ‘You can go now as we need this bed’. “No medicine, no explanation… nothing. “I was still worried so took him to Withybush Ward 9 on Sunday. “We were seen immediately by the most amazing consultant I’ve ever met. She explained to me in 15 minutes what I’ve been wanting someone to tell me for almost 9 months; namely, what’s wrong with my son and how to manage it.

“He spent a few hours on Ward 9 and was then sent home with a special pump to help his cough/ breathing and has kept all his food and drinks down since. “Such a shame that this has happened to our hospital at Withybush. Bring back Ward 9 and its nurses and doctors and stop this silliness!” The Pembrokeshire Herald would like to hear your experiences of Glangwili Hospital since the transfer of services from Withybush. Whether negative or positive, please send your stories to


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Welsh Guards sergeant shot dead during Castlemartin live-fire training exercise



A BRITISH ARMY sergeant was killed on Thursday night (Mar 4) in a shooting accident at Castlemartin Training Area, The Herald can confirm.

The solider was training with live ammunition, ahead of a planned deployment to Iraq this summer.

Five police cars and an ambulance were seen screaming through Pembroke towards the incident at approximately 10pm towards the incident.

A coastguard helicopter, CG187, was scrambled to the scene, and hovered near Bosherston for a while, but was stood down and returned to base.

The Herald has contacted the MOD for a comment, who said: “It is with great sadness we can confirm the death of a soldier on the 4th of March.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

“The circumstances surrounding this death are being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”


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Pembrokeshire County Council bills Home Office for Penally camp costs



THE COUNCIL has sent an invoice for more than £80,000 to the Home Office.

It is to cover some of the costs that the local authority has incurred in connection with the Penally Asylum Seeker Centre, near Tenby.

Following a question on the issue from Cllr Jonathan Preston at Full Council the Council have confirmed that a bill has been sent.

The Member for Penally ward asked: “Please can the relevant Cabinet Member provide a breakdown of all costs to this authority which have been incurred in providing staff, services and other associated resources to Penally camp since its re-purpose by the Home Office last September?”

Council leader Cllr. David Simpson confirmed that on February 22 Pembrokeshire County Council submitted an invoice for £83, 858 which includes £65,564 in staff costs, £12,799 of specialist support and £5,495 for works such as barriers.

Pembrokeshire County Council is currently awaiting payment, the Authority confirmed.

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Hospitality sector welcomes Budget boost



IT HAS been so long it seems since we could stand at a bar and enjoy a well-earned pint, but now we are on the road back to normality, the Herald has spoken to some of those in the hospitality sector who have been asked to close. We wanted to know what the owners in businesses in these sectors locally thought of the budget and if Rishi Sunak had done enough to help them.

We first spoke to a Milford Haven restaurant business. Owner of Martha’s Vineyard in Milford Haven, Dan Mills said that the budget was not a silver bullet to fix all problems but said that the budget had gone a fair way to delivering what many in the Pembrokeshire hospitality sector have been calling for in recent weeks.

Dan Mills said: “The biggest risk many of us were facing was the cliff edge of a VAT increase, the end of the Furlough Scheme and a return to full business rates, I’m pleased that the Chancellor has recognised this and taken action on all fronts.

“With talk of the Welsh Government restricting us to outside trading for an initial period, the flexibility that the Furlough Scheme brings will be a huge help to ensure staff retain their jobs.

“I was also delighted to see that the Chancellor has provided funding to Wales to ensure that we benefit from a further 12 months of Business Rate Relief here in Pembrokeshire, that’s money that many of us can instead invest into restarting our businesses.

“I hope that the conversation that unfortunately began due to Covid between politicians and the Pembrokeshire hospitality and tourism sector can continue long beyond this crisis, it seems that through some open and honest feedback we are making real progress.

Award winning gastro-pub The Griffin Inn is well known throughout Wales and has received many national reviews. Their reputation puts them in a strong position once they are allowed to re-open. We spoke to Sian and Simon Vickers about the budget.

Simon Vickers, co-owner is also a director of Visit Pembrokeshire. He told The Herald: “I think the budget was very positive for the hospitality industry with the reduction in VAT being the biggest help.

“Overall I feel the government have supported the industry amazingly

In regard to tax on alcohol, Simon said: “Duty has been frozen It would have been nice to have seen a cut in it. Whether there’s a cut or not the breweries always increase their prices so in all honesty it never affects us.”

The ongoing financial support has been welcomed by industry group CAMRA, The Campaign or Real Ale, but the organisation said that the Chancellor had missed the opportunity to lower beer duty to save our pubs.

Their national chairman Nik Antona issued a statement to The Pembrokeshire Herald saying: “Freezing alcohol duty is obviously better than a rise. However, CAMRA had hoped to see the Chancellor announce a cut in duty on beer served on tap in pubs and social clubs to benefit consumers and help the great British pub recover and thrive in the difficult months and years ahead by being able to compete with supermarket alcohol.

“The Government’s commitment to review alcohol duties in the coming months is welcome. CAMRA will continue to call for a lower rate of duty for beer served in pubs – an option available to the Government now we have left the European Union.

“Reducing tax on beer served in pubs and social clubs would encourage responsible drinking in a supervised, community setting – as well as boosting jobs and local economies, helping consumers and benefiting pubs and licensees.”

On financial support announced, Nik commented: “Cutting VAT as pubs begin to reopen, and reducing it until April next year, means they can now start benefiting from that cut – but CAMRA believes this VAT cut should be extended to alcohol so that traditional locals that don’t serve food can benefit too.

“The extension of furlough until September and new grants of up to £18,000 are very welcome. However, pubs are unlikely to be able to fully reopen at pre-COVID trading levels due to outside space and then table service only indoors. The beer and pubs sector will need further support over the coming months, over and above new loans, to help them get back on their feet until there is a full and proper re-opening and they can trade at full capacity.

“Extending the business rates holiday until the end of June will help keep the wolves from the door for many English pubs, with the two-thirds reduction for the rest of the financial year a welcome step. However, given how tough it will be for many pubs we believe the 100% cut in business rates needs to be extended for a full 12 months as has already happened in Scotland.”

Picture: Simon Vickers, Griffin Inn, Dale

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