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Cancer care ‘a top priority’

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Improvements expected: Deputy Health Minister, Vaughan Gething

Improvements expected: Deputy Health Minister, Vaughan Gething

MORE PEOPLE are surviving cancer, even though more people in Wales are being diagnosed with the disease, a new report on cancer care published on Wednesday (Jan 14) by the Welsh Government reveals. The third all-Wales annual report for cancer sets out the progress made against the Welsh Government’s Together for Health – Cancer Delivery Plan over the last 12 months and identifies areas for future improvement. The number of people diagnosed with cancer is increasing largely as a result of Wales’ ageing population. Between 1995 and 2011 there were, on average, around 16,400 new cases of cancer every year.

But by 2012, more than 18,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in Wales. The report shows there has been a 25 percent reduction in mortality from cancer between 1995 and 2012 in Wales among people under 75. It also shows that since 1995, there has been a 17.5 percent improvement in the number of people still alive a year after diagnosis, with a 20.1 percent improvement in the number of those still alive five years after diagnosis.

The report acknowledges the Welsh NHS’ performance against the 62-day cancer waiting time target for people newly diagnosed with cancer remains an area for improvement and sets out areas for action for health boards to deliver improvements in waiting times. Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Caring for people with cancer is a top priority for NHS Wales.

Over the coming years, around one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer before age 75 and around four in 10 at some stage during their lifetime. Cancer is a common diagnosis and the incidence is increasing. “Our aim is for the Welsh NHS to provide the highest standard of care for everyone with cancer. There has been considerable progress in cancer care in Wales over the past 12 months. “This report clearly shows that while there are more people are being diagnosed with cancer in Wales each year, death rates are falling.

New and more effective treatments mean that many more people can now expect to live longer after their cancer treatment. “However, the report also sets out the challenges the Welsh NHS faces. We do expect to see improvements over the coming year in the percentage of patients, newly diagnosed with cancer who are treated within 62 days.” Dr Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales said: “The Welsh NHS has performed well over the past 12 months and seen progress in many of our performance measures.

This is a tribute to all those involved in the planning and delivery of cancer services, including staff in the NHS and those in other parts of the public sectors. “We must also acknowledge the invaluable work of the community and voluntary sector. We have now established firm foundations for further positive development. “We will continue to track our progress in future years to ensure that we are in a sustainable position to achieve our vision by 2016.”

Macmillan Cancer Support General Manager for Wales Susan Morris said: “Two years following the launch of the Cancer Delivery Plan for Wales there is still some way to go to achieve all of its commitments and ambitions. “It is now imperative that the Welsh Government undertakes a follow up Patient Experience Survey during 2015 to measure from a patients perspective whether progress is being been made. “The Wales Cancer Patient Experience Survey showed that a third of cancer patients (34 per cent) did not have a key worker and only 22 percent were given a written care plan. “It is essential that there is national leadership to oversee the implementation of the Cancer Delivery Plan and that there is better national planning and more consistent and better outcomes for people affected by cancer.

“The Minister for Health is pivotal to ensuring that cancer delivery is joined up to ensure first class cancer services in Wales, which is imperative to secure the best possible outcomes for people affected by cancer.” Clinical lead for cancer Dr Gareth Collier said: “We are grateful to Macmillan Cancer Support for commissioning the Patient Experience Survey as this provides us with a valuable insight from patients receiving care.

“We try to ensure that the patient is at the heart of everything we do at Hywel Dda University Health Board and ensuring they receive the best outcomes and a positive experience is extremely important. We have systems in place to assure ourselves that we are providing for patient’s individual needs and to learn from incidences where we fail to achieve the standards we set for ourselves.

“We are pleased that the report acknowledges high levels of satisfaction with NHS cancer care in Wales and we are looking closely at recommendations for further improvement. We are continuing to work with the National Cancer Networks, including MacMillan and our nurse specialists, to further improve our nurse specialist capacity.

“Taking lessons from the report, we are planning local patient satisfaction surveys and developing patient support groups. We also work very closely with the Community Health Council and patient representatives and an example of this in action is the involvement of the cancer charitable organisations in the planning and delivery of a Chemotherapy Day Unit in Withybush Hospital – a project we have made a clear public commitment to.”

The plans for the chemotherapy unit at Withybush, reveal that the Board is considering ambitious plans to reconfigure the hospital’s top floor to accommodate the new unit, including taking over the existing space at Ward Nine and converting Ward 10 to the day unit, serviced by the existing dedicated lift.

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Three kayakers assisted by St Davids inshore lifeboat crew

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WHILST on exercise, Tuesday (June 22), St Davids In-shore Lifeboat was tasked by the coastguard at 3:15pm to assist three kayakers off St Davids Head.

The volunteer crew made way to the casualties and once one scene could see that one of the kayakers had made their way around the headland to the safer waters of Whitesands Bay.

The party had paddled out from Whitesands Beach when the tide had been ebbing and made there way North around St Davids Head. When the tide turned a wind against tide situation occurred on the headland causing 1.5m choppy seas and 5 knot current preventing the other two kayakers from returning back into Whitesands Bay, a member of the public had spotted the situation and called the Coastguard.

The crew assisted the remaining two kayakers around the headland one at a time by taking them on-board the lifeboat and around the headland. Once the party was reunited in the safety of Whitesands Bay they were escorted back towards the beach where RNLI lifeguards were informed and expecting their arrival.

The crew returned to exercise and complete its crew assessments with the on board assessor before rehousing at around 4:30pm.

When going out on kayaks always wear a lifejacket, check tides and weather, and bring a means to call for help, on 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

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Green hydrogen electrolyser and car refueler arrive at Milford Waterfront

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says it is leading the way in renewable energy with a collaborative £4.5 million project exploring the vital role hydrogen could play in a decarbonised energy future.

Milford Haven : Energy Kingdom (MH:EK) is a two-year ‘detailed design’ project, completing in 2022, exploring what a renewable energy based Smart Local Energy System could look like for the Milford Haven Waterway – including the concept of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (HFCEV).

The aim is to gather detailed insight into the whole energy system around the Waterway, looking at how to make, using and distributing hydrogen financially viable within the different energy sectors of buildings, industry, power and transport.

The MH:EK team will investigate the potential of local renewable energy, including solar, onshore wind, future offshore wind and biomass for decarbonised gas transition.

One element of the project involves a consumer trial of two Riversimple ‘Rasa’ HFCEV’s. The MH:EK team is building a green hydrogen electrolyser and refueler on Milford Waterfront – and this will be used to produce green hydrogen on site to fuel the two trial HFCEV’s.

The project will demonstrate the practical application of hydrogen technology. The aim is to test the feasibility of two hydrogen powered Rasa cars. They will be built by Welsh company Riversimple, and operate as fleet cars in and around the Haven.

Pembrokeshire County Councillor Cris Tomos, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Welsh Language, said: ‘We welcome the progress made by the partnership, particularly in view of recent news that new petrol and diesel cars will not be sold in the UK after 2030. This innovative approach will help us to switch to a low carbon future and promoting sustainable transport as we respond to the climate change emergency.’

Work is underway and should be operational for the trial in July. A hydrogen-ready smart hybrid heating system is also being designed and will be installed and tested in an operational Port building.

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Council’s building maintenance teams to resume non-emergency responsive repairs

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THE HOUSING Building Maintenance teams within Pembrokeshire County Council are now able to re-commence non-emergency responsive repairs to customers’ homes around the County.

Lockdown has prevented tradesmen and women from entering homes to carry out anything other than emergency repairs for many months but the PCC Contact Centre is now able to take calls from customers to request a non-emergency service in their homes once more.

The Contact Centre receives around 38,000 building maintenance related service requests each year and even throughout lockdown Building Maintenance have proudly maintained a 99.2% success rate in responding to emergency repairs within 24hours since restrictions came into force.

Covid has caused a large disruption to the service and while the authority is now in a position to re-open phone lines to routine responsive repairs, a delay in providing that service is inevitable as the backlog is worked through but the authority is working hard to meet the demand.

Backlog is likely to take several months and is dependent on a number of factors including the numbers of repair requests received, availability of materials and contractors.

PCC currently employs 64 tradesmen and women directly and has a considerable number of contractors on its framework to undertake a wide range of maintenance works and Building Maintenance are in the process of tendering a New Minor Works Framework.

All maintenance employees and contractors will continue to work under strict guidelines in people’s homes to ensure that all safety and social distancing measures are adhered to.

The Housing Building Maintenance service is also in the final stages of implementing ‘Repair Finder’ which will enable Contact Centre staff to diagnose the faults in customer’s homes far quicker and more accurately than before, which will in turn ensure that Building Maintenance are better informed and resourced ahead of arriving at the property to carry out the repair.

This is expected to reduce the length of calls to the Contact Centre and subsequently reduce call-waiting times.

The ‘Repair Finder’ tool is expected to be available later in the year and will soon offer residents direct access to an online version which will enable them to report responsive repairs themselves.

Once trialled and released, service requests can be logged by the tenant via the Council’s ‘Housing Online’ portal.

When residents report a problem within their home via the Call Centre or ‘Repair Finder’, they will receive text message alerts informing them of the timescales within which they can expect the repair to be made.

Cabinet member for Housing, Cllr Michelle Bateman said: “We’re under no illusion that lockdown measures have caused a major disruption to the building maintenance service.

“We’re receiving new requests now on top of those that have been on standby during the Covid restrictions. Pembrokeshire residents have shown tremendous patience and understanding of services that have been stretched throughout the crisis so we’re counting on their ongoing support and we hope they appreciate that it will take a period of time to get back to where we were.

“People can be assured that we are working very hard to bring back the outstanding levels of service we provided before Covid and it’s things like ‘Repair Finder’ that will help make this possible going forward.

“With one in every six employed people in Pembrokeshire working for the local authority, it’s important to remember that we are very much in this together”.

If you wish to report a repair to your home you can call the Contact Centre on 01437 764551.

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