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Ambulances at breaking point

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ambulancesWHILE controversy continues about the tragic death of Wayne Young (see page x) on New Year’s Day, The Herald has spoken to several sources who have told the same story again and again: that the Ambulance Service has been pushed to the breaking point and beyond over recent weeks. One concerned member of staff told us that ambulances based in Pembrokeshire have been forced to cover incidents in Ceredigion and as far afi eld as Llandeilo, as Carmarthenshire-based ambulances have been overwhelmed by calls to Swansea and beyond.

AMBULANCES FILL THE GAPS’ 

Five ambulances are rotated to cover Pembrokeshire. However, demands from outside the County and long waits at Glangwili for ‘emergency admissions’, mean Pembrokeshire has been left hopelessly exposed with fewer available than are required to be on duty. Pictures have appeared in the Welsh media of a dozen ambulances queued up outside Morriston, each with a patient waiting for admission to Accident & Emergency. A similar, but less dramatic situation has recently occurred at Glangwili, with a Pembrokeshire ambulance waiting for more than two hours to unload an ill patient. The Herald has also uncovered that in Christmas week only one third of the most urgent ‘Red’ cases were reached within the eight minutes target set by the Welsh Government. The problems with the Ambulance Service have called into question the viability of the Board’s ‘Designated Ambulance Vehicle’ (DAV). The Herald understands that although twelve vacancies were advertised to crew the DAV, there has been difficulty in acquiring long term staff for the service and that at least two replacement posts have recently gone out to advertisement.

LOCAL GP VOICES CONCERNS

Dr Dan Weaver, a GP at the Robert Street practice in Milford Haven, posted his family’s experience on the Save Withybush Hospital Team’s (SWAT) Facebook page: “One of my children has been really poorly recently. “At the weekend they had been really wheezy with a croupy upper respiratory tract infection, but abruptly got a lot worse and they went into a degree of respiratory distress, really struggling to breath to the point where they were vomiting with the effort and lips had bluish tinge. “We live approximately 12 minutes from Withybush and last year in a similar situation I would have run her to the car and driven to A&E in case she needed nebulising/oxygen support etc. This was not an option as it was after 10pm. “West Wales General is more like a 45-50 minute drive. “I am medically trained but would not have fancied risking her worsening further in a cold car while I drove to Carmarthen as I could still be potentially over half an hour from help – additionally I realised that I would need to fi ll up with petrol to get to Carmarthen as my tank was virtually empty. I gave her oral steroids and salbutamol, we tried to keep her calm and called an ambulance. “The ambulance took over 30 minutes to come because it had to come from Carmarthen. Apparently all the Pembrokeshire ambulances were in Carmarthenshire and stuck in Llanelli (this was according to the crew who attended who were fantastic). “She was already starting to improve a little when the ambulance crew arrived thankfully as the steroids were beginning to kick in. She’s still pretty poorly but breathing better than a couple of days ago. “I felt it important to share this as I think there are two key points about the current situation that I think are worth underlining: Firstly it does not seem that ambulance provision is anything like appropriate considering the increased demands on the ambulance service from reduced local jobs & gynae/paediatric services. Ambulances from the county seem routinely being used to cover other regions which leaves Pembrokeshire very exposed. “Secondly I think it may be worth anyone who looks after a child (or is pregnant or knows someone who is pregnant) in Pembrokeshire making sure they always have enough fuel to get to Carmarthen quickly in the event of an unforeseen emergency. This is not something which I had really clearly thought about before Saturday night; but I think is increasingly relevant and could make the difference between recovery and tragedy.”

CONCERNS FOR EXPECTANT MUMS 

An expectant mum contacted The Herald this week and told us that mums to- be are being told to consider opting to give birth in Withybush to ease pressures on the DAV and ensure that maternity services remain in Pembrokeshire. She told us that she feels midwives have been trying to plant the seed for mums to stay in Pembrokeshire, despite accepting that birth at Withybush might be no safer than having a home birth attended by a midwife. She also said that midwives have been telling expectant mothers that staff shortages at Glangwili mean that aftercare is poorer than at Withybush and that there is pressure on staff to turnaround beds too quickly. Rebecca (name changed) said: “I made the to decision to go to Carmarthen early on in my pregnancy, but when I went to a recent appointment, I felt very confused afterwards after feeling pressured to agree that I would be better off going to Withybush due to the poor aftercare, even though if I needed an emergency caesarean or even an epidural, I wouldn’t be able to have one due to there being nobody qualifi ed to perform the procedure.” Rebecca also reported that she had been led to understand that if people do not use the midwife led unit, it will close all together and there will be nowhere at all to have a baby in Pembrokeshire. The Pembrokeshire Herald reported staff fears on that very point last summer, when the Board closed Withybush’s Special Care Baby Unit and ended consultant-led care at the hospital. Rebecca continued: “I’ve also been told to call the midwife when I go into labour so I can be checked to see when I should go to the hospital, but whenever I call them, whether it be at the doctors surgery or the midwife led unit, nobody has ever answered the phone to me when I call, and I have to leave a message to be picked up later. “The Midwife Led Unit never goes to answerphone and never stops ringing. “What worries me most is that problems can’t always be detected until they’re happening in labour. Expectant mothers in labour are expected to wait until contractions are fi ve to six minutes apart, despite having to travel for up to an hour or even more, with the risk of waters breaking in the car on the way.”

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Reminder from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park to pre-book for attractions

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MEMBERS of the public are being reminded to pre-book their entry tickets before visiting two popular National Park Authority-run attractions.

To allow for social distancing on site, both Carew Castle and Tidal Mill and Castell Henllys Iron Age Village have been operating a pre-booking system since last summer.

Those wishing to visit should book their tickets online before arriving at the site. This applies to Annual Pass holders and others who qualify for free entry, such as wheelchair users and accompanying carers.

Carew Castle is open to pre-booked visitors between 10am and 4pm (Tidal Mill 11.30am – 5pm), while those wishing to visit Castell Henllys will be asked to book either a morning slot (10am-1pm) or an afternoon slot (2pm-5pm) before visiting the site.

Daisy Hughes, Visitor Services Manager at Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, said: “Over the past 12 months, we have made some changes to the site and how we operate to ensure that we keep you, our staff and our local community safe.

“All areas of the Castle and Tidal Mill are open, including the Walled Garden and play area. Nest Tearoom, which has plenty of outdoor undercover seating, will be serving light lunches and homemade cakes along with hot and cold drinks throughout the day, and the Castle and Mill Shops remain open – although face coverings must be worn and only card/contactless payments are currently being accepted.

“With the exception of Nest Tearoom, pre-booking is essential, though, and we’re asking all visitors to make sure they book their entry tickets in advance, in order to avoid any delays or disappointment when they arrive on site.”

Entry tickets for both Carew Castle and Castell Henllys can be purchased by visiting www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events

A dynamic programme of events suitable for all the family will be running at both sites throughout the summer months. Visit the above website for more information and to book tickets.

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Salvage Hunters: New series is filming in Pembrokeshire, and they need help

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SALVAGE HUNTERS, the well-loved and most watched Quest TV and Discovery Network show, is on the hunt for locations to film at in the Pembrokeshire and the wider South West Wales area to feature in the upcoming series.

We follow decorative antiques expert Drew Pritchard as he travels around various locations in the UK and abroad on his quest to find and buy unusual objects with an interesting history.

Drew really visits everywhere – beautiful estates, old family businesses, barns and attic’s stuffed full of unwanted things, museums, factories, collectors and iconic religious sites buying all sorts along the way – from gorgeous country house furniture and railwayana to 6ft 1980s disco balls and anything in-between.

Now in its sixteenth series and airing to over half a million people in the UK and millions more worldwide, this is a great opportunity for you to promote your business or home to a broad audience, sell a few items that perhaps you no longer need, make some money and celebrate the history and heritage of the UK.

If you think you fit the bill or know somebody that might then please do not hesitate to reach out and speak with a member of our team.

Call us on 0203 179 0092 or alternatively send us an email to – salvagehunters@curvemedia.com

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Haverfordwest and Cardigan high streets listed as among the ten worst in Britain

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TWO west Wales high streets have been listed in a UK wide report detailing Britain’s worst high streets.

In the highly respected report Cardigan High Street has been listed as the 4th worst in Britain, whilst Haverfordwest has come 8th.

The Harper Dennis Hobbs rankings, which come out every two years, in sadly listed six Welsh High Streets in the worst 10 category.

Some retail centres have performed well since 2019 but most Welsh towns have fallen down the list.

Overall the performance in Wales was poor with a major drop in the average position of Welsh high streets on the UK list.

More shops in Haverfordwest’s town centre have closed since the coronavirus hit (Pic: File image)

The average rank was 797 – the worst of any nation and region in the UK, showing the huge challenge Welsh Government has to revive town centres. Six of the bottom ten UK high streets were in Wales.

Normally Harper Dennis Hobbs releases the full ranking but when the firm published its 2021 report in February, it only made the top 50 best-performing locations publicly available. Now, a copy of the full list shared with i lays bare the shopping centres and high streets that have fared worst over the past year.

Top of the worst list is Girvan in South Ayrshire.

Girvan is home to around 6,500 people and has suffered the same difficulties as many cities and towns across the UK when it comes to its high street’s declining appeal – but it is the area’s “very weak retail offer” and the large number of empty shops that helped seal its place at the bottom of the league table.

Haverfordwest in 2014. can you spot any differences to now?

“Girvan along with Haverfordwest and Cardigan all scored poorly due to a very weak retail offer [and] the towns have a relatively high vacancy rate,” said Andy Metherell, head of retail consultancy at Harper Dennis Hobbs.

Andy Metherell, head of retail consultancy at HDH, explained: “Our analysis is unique as we use variables that both consumers and retailers consider when assessing shopping locations to rank the top 1,000 retail centres in Great Britain. This Vitality Ranking looks very different from previous years as the ‘retail health’ of high streets across the country has seen contrasting fortunes since the start of the pandemic.

“The most vital retail centres currently provide services that are essential to people’s lives, such as grocers and pharmacies. These essential retailers have been able to trade throughout the strictest lockdowns, and consumers have not been willing or able to travel far to visit these stores. Shopping patterns have therefore changed significantly since the start of the pandemic, and consumers’ local high streets are benefitting at the expense of major destinations.”

Turning empty retail spaces in the town into homes or offices could help rejuvenate the area and bring “demand to the doors” of shops that survive, Mr Metherell said.

Cardigan High Street before Covid-19 (Pic Stay In Wales)

Top 10 best high streets 2021

  1. Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire
  2. Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
  3. Tenterden, Kent
  4. Wimbledon Village, south-west London
  5. Marlborough, Wiltshire
  6. Sevenoaks, Kent
  7. Kingston upon Thames, Greater London
  8. Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire
  9. Harpenden, Hertfordshire
  10. Ilkley, Bradford

Top 10 worst high streets 2021

  1. Girvan, South Ayrshire
  2. Bristol – Baldwin Street
  3. Chepstow, Monmouthshire
  4. Cardigan, Ceredigion
  5. Southsea, Portsmouth
  6. Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf
  7. Ammanford, Carmarthenshire
  8. Haverfordwest, Permbrokeshire
  9. Canning Town, east London
  10. Newtown, Powys

(Source: Harper Dennis Hobbs)

Cardigan High Street pictured in the early 2000’s before Currys left town (Pic Geograph)
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