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Patients in danger as ambulance response times fail to meet targets

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Plaid Cymru issued a press release this week suggesting that Pembrokeshire’s ambulance emergency response times are failing to meet their set target.

The Party claim that the response times to calls in Pembrokeshire missed the all-Wales target: that of of an ambulance reaching the scene of an incident within eight minutes of an emergency call being placed. Plaid Cymru claim that in July of this year, in Pembrokeshire, only 64.8% of life threatening calls were answered within the target eight minutes timeframe, from an all -Wales target of 65%, falling short by point two of a percent.

According to analysis by Plaid Cymru’s National Assembly team, it was discovered that only seven out of the twenty-two local authorities reached their target for more than nine months out of the last eighteen and, apparently, Pembrokeshire only just managed to meet this success rate, but performance has, as Plaid Cymru put it, ‘deteriorated worryingly this year’.

Plaid Cymru Mid and West AM Simon Thomas said of these apparently alarming figures,

“It is not surprising that the Welsh Ambulance Service is not meeting its targets. What is concerning is that there seems to be little improvement. Many of us wonder why the Welsh (Labour) Government continues to push through their plans to centralise hospital services that will require ambulances to travel further in emergency situations”

He went on to add that,

“The Health Minister must begin to tackle ambulance response times in Pembrokeshire. Plaid Cymru believes there should be better investment in planning and training of the workforce. If this happened more paramedics could make decisions and carry out treatment without the need for hospital”.

Commenting on this seemingly worrying situation, Paul Davies, AM for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said,

“The latest ambulance emergency response times for Pembrokeshire are very worrying. NHS staff work tirelessly but, sadly, Welsh Labour’s record-breaking cuts to the health budget of over £800million, in real terms, over five years are making their jobs impossible. Confidence in our health service is already at rock-bottom, and none of this will do anything to ease the worries of the people of Pembrokeshire”.

He concluded by stating that,

“It’s now time for serious change.  The closure of the Special Care Baby Unit at Withybush  Hospital would have a seriously detrimental effect on other services, such as paediatrics, A and E and, of course, the ambulance service. Labour’s Health Minister has talked of some action, following the latest ambulance service review. I will be monitoring this action to make sure the changes are effective for my constituents and implemented as soon as possible.”

A Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust spokesperson said of the perceived problem,

“Due to the increase in calls that we experience year on year we are actually reaching more and more people across Wales than ever before. July was an extremely busy month for us, with the service taking 36,964 emergency calls, up by 3,093 calls from the previous month, and 1,149 calls from the same period last year, with more than a third of these – 14,254 calls – being the most serious in nature. We recognise that we are short of the target for these most serious calls and are continuing to work with our Health Board colleagues to improve the situation. We would like to reassure the public that the Trust is firmly committed to delivering the improvement aims of its ‘Working Together for Success’ modernisation programme. We are working, and will continue to work, as hard as we can to get to patients as quickly as possible and provide the best quality of care for the people of Wales and we invite the public to support NHS Wales’ ‘Choose Well’ campaign, so that busy emergency services can help those who need them most urgently. We also ask the public only to dial 999 and attend emergency departments for life-threatening and serious illnesses and injuries – remember to keep emergency ambulances for your emergencies.”

When contacted by The Herald, the Welsh Government Press office responded to these criticisms and statistics by issuing a statement saying that,

“The McClelland Review of Welsh Ambulance Services made it very clear that our current eight minute target is only very weakly supported by clinical evidence. Work is underway to develop a new set of clinical indicators that provide a better view of the quality of ambulance provision in Wales, and these will be in place by April 2014. We are encouraged to note, though, that in Pembrokeshire 69% of ambulances arrived at scene to calls categorised as life threatening within nine minutes and 83.2% in thirteen minutes. We expect Local Health Boards to work closely with the ambulance service to improve service delivery, to ensure the people of Wales receive the high quality care they deserve.”

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Simon’s Hart to Hart with Pembroke constituent

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SIMON HART has got into a heated doorstep discussion with a Pembroke pensioner whilst canvasing for next week’s general election.

Michael Hart, 70, who is no relation to Simon Hart, contacted The Herald at lunchtime today (5 December) to say that he had been in a heated discussion with the Tory incumbent, who was out door-knocking on his street.

The argument was sparked by the swastika saga – as exclusively reported in last week’s Herald – in which Simon Hart REFUSES to account for the appearance of offensive Nazi graffiti on one of his election placards, two years after it was taken down from public display.

Simon Hart photographed the placard in question in 2017 – at which point the only evidence of graffiti it bore was written text. But he posted a new photograph of the same placard to kickstart his re-election campaign last month, in which two swastikas are visible where none appeared before.

The MP is still refusing to give any public explanation, and has threatened legal action against those speculating over what he says is “demonstrably untrue.”
Since being reported by his favourite local weekly, Michael Hart tells us that he noticed how Simon Hart was still keeping quiet on the swastikas’ appearance – despite being approached by journalists reporting on the matter for the Independent, Daily Mirror, iNews and Western Mail titles.

Earlier this week WalesOnline reported that, when approached, Simon Hart failed to offer “an explanation as to how the swastika signs ended up on the election board, or who might be responsible”, but he told them: “Any suggestion that I had anything to do with this is malicious, false and defamatory and lawyers have been instructed”.

Michael Hart tells the Herald that he became aware Simon Hart was out campaigning on Kingsbridge Drive at lunchtime, when the candidate’s poster landed on his doormat.

The retiree says that the swastika issue led to the disagreement – in which words were exchanged and threats of legal action were inferred made towards him by the government minister.

Michael Hart, a retired teacher and mechanical engineer, said that he tackled Simon Hart to explain how the swastikas came about. He says his prodding produced what he calls a “tentative explanation” from the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire incumbent, which he finds “hard to believe”.

“I opened my door and went out to the drive, and politely said I did not want the poster. A few moments later, Simon Hart came up the road and onto my drive.

“I complained to him about two things – the Conservatives’ illegal proroguing of Parliament, and all that I’ve read about his publishing of the photo on his Facebook page of his defaced election board with the swastikas on.

“When I asked him about the signs, he got agitated, angry, and threatened me with legal action, and said he would pursue anybody who made out that he had anything to do with it”.

“On pushing him further, he told me how he thinks they got there. He says when his signs were in storage in a shed, that the shed was broken into, and a large number of placards including the swastika placard were ‘damaged or defaced’ for a second time!

“It really is quite some theory – and if it is true now, then it was true last week when the issue was first exposed. So why didn’t he mention this before now, when the Herald and other papers started asking him questions, or why didn’t he contact the police?

“Why was it when he put the poster on Facebook did he not then explain how the swastikas got there?

“I’m not sure why but he was recording our conversation on his phone. At the end of the visit no one from Mr Hart’s party would accept the poster back – so I threw it in the road and then it was picked up.”

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Jeremy Corbyn 100% confirmed to visit Pembrokeshire this weekend

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LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn will be visiting Pembrokeshire this weekend to shore up support for Labour candidates in the area.

Although the exact itinerary has not yet been confirmed, Labour HQ in Cardiff has confirmed to The Pembrokeshire Herald that Mr Corbyn will definitely be in attendance.

Mr Corbyn will be keen to rally votes for Philippa Thompson, who is standing in the Preseli Pembrokeshire seat – the second most marginal in the UK.

At the 2017 election she lost to Stephen Crabb by just 314 votes.

An email sent out to Labour members states: “Jeremy Corbyn will be in Haverfordwest to talk about how we win a better society, and we hope you can join him.

“This election is a once in a generation chance for us. Together we can reverse a decade of austerity. Take power from the billionaires, the bad bosses and the big polluters and give it to workers, young people, communities and everyone the Tories have failed for so long.

“We’re coming together to make our voices heard in Haverfordwest this weekend. This is about getting together, being inspired, and making a difference in the final week.”

The exact location will be sent out to those who register to attend, the email ads. The indoor rally is expected to start at 5.30pm.

Corbyn’s supporters said they hope that their leader will also attend an outdoor rally taking place in Haverfordwest town centre, at a location to be confirmed, the same afternoon.

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Haverfordwest boy caught taking drugs by officers thirty miles away

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A TEENAGE boy was arrested in Haverfordwest last week, after he was caught smoking cannabis on CCTV cameras which are monitored in Carmarthen (on Nov 28).

As part of the ongoing effort to crack down on anti-social behaviour in the town centre, known as Operation Spitfire, Haverfordwest Inspector, Reuben Palin, was at police headquarters, where the cameras are monitored, when he spotted the boy on-screen.

He saw a group of teenagers known to police, and the camera operator was able to zoom in for a closer look at their activities. After a call to local officers, they quickly arrived at the scene. The group was searched and one of the youths was arrested for possessing the class B drug.

Insp. Palin said: “We’re doing all we can to address community concerns about anti-social behaviour in Haverfordwest, and this includes putting the town’s new CCTV system to best use.

“Seeing the capability of the cameras in live-time has shown that CCTV is not just useful when an incident has occurred, but can also help us monitor what’s happening in town, and will hopefully deter bad behaviour.

“Obviously this can’t replace good old fashioned foot patrols, and we have a plan that sees CCTV complementing a visible police presence.”

The teenage boy arrested on suspicion of possessing the small amount of cannabis admitted the offence, and will be dealt with by the Youth Offending Team to ensure he gets support for his drug use.

He continued: “We are also working with other agencies, in particular the council, which has recently opened a drop-in centre for young people at No 2 Old Bridge, with the aim of offering a wide range of activities and opportunities that reflect their interests.

“While we have a strategy to minimise anti-social behaviour in this area, we would like to remind parents that the actions of their children are not the responsibility of the police. We urge you to be aware of what your children are doing, and where they are spending their time.

“No one should have to put up with anti-social behaviour and I would encourage the community to contact Haverfordwest Police to report any issues or concerns.”

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