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Tories promise service return to Withybush

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Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 12.12.18SENIOR members of the Welsh Conservative Party visited Withybush Hospital on Tuesday (Apr 12) to pledge a return of services to the hospital if elected in May.

The leader of the party, Andrew RT Davies, and local Assembly candidates Angela Burns and Paul Davies met with the local media to discuss health care in west Wales.

Ms Burns emphasised how important health care was in the area, saying that all respondents so far to a survey she had commissioned specified provision of health services as a major issue.

Andrew RT Davies said that investment in the service, to allow commissioners to commission services, would improve the health care service locally, and pledged £800m of investment in the Welsh NHS over the fifth assembly.

When asked if his party had any plans to privatise NHS services, as is happening in England, Andrew RT Davies came straight to the point:

“There will be no privatisation and health will be free at point of need,” he insisted. What the Welsh Conservatives want to do is commit to lowering waiting times and reopen minor injury units to take the pressure off A&Es.”

Mr Davies also pledged to reopen the special baby care unit at Withybush – the closing of which attracted a lot of strong feeling locally.

The reasons given for the closure were finance, ability to train staff, and failure to attract staff. If you get the finance right you can put the training in place. If you put the training in place you can attract medics to come here and develop skills, so it all boils down to the commitment you are prepared to make about finance.

Mr Davies dismissed talks of cuts in other areas, including adult social care: “There will be no cutbacks in social care, because health and social care go hand-inglove,” he added, pointing out that cuts would lead to bed blockage.

Mr Davies also claimed that the average hospital stay in Wales was 6.7 days, while in England it was 4.6

“If we can shave two days off the average stay in hospital, that is saving about £1,000 per bed.”

When asked whether the Welsh Conservatives disagreed with a report from the Royal College of Paediatric Services and Child Health, which suggested that there was ‘no clinical sense’ in returning 24 hour paediatric services to Withybush, Mr Davies said he disagreed with the way in which the report was undertaken.

When asked how they would address long-standing issues in attracting staff, Andrew RT Davies said that finance was key, in that doctors would be offered secure long-term contracts and would have the resources in place to back up their skills and the training necessary to improve.

“What has happened in the last five years is we have had £1b illio n taken out of the health service and that has led to cuts.

“What we need in our politicians is strong leadership and commitment – and we are offering that on both counts.”

He pledged that no cuts to the health budget would be made over the assembly term, and promised the delivery of a rural health care plan.

Ms Burns also pointed out that, without Withybush Hospital, the region would be unable to attract GPs – a concern that has previously been raised by doctors’ surgeries in the county.

When asked whether controversial plans mooted in Westminster to introduce a minimum £35,000 salary requirement for non-EU migrants would affect the ability of health boards to fill job vacancies, Mr Davies said: “The ability to attract staff from outside the EU is key to all health services in the UK,” and suggested it was down to devolved governments to put the right packages in place.

He also claimed that there would be exemptions for health workers to make up shortfalls.

“But what we are aspiring to do is train of our own doctors, our own nurses and our own professional staff to manage and develop our own health service here in “Wales,” he added.

“But in the short term it should be within the gift of any health board to attract staff and we will work with our colleagues in Westminster to make sure that happens.”

Given that the Conservative Government in England has replaced nursing bursaries with a loan system, we asked if the Welsh Conservatives would follow suit. Mr Davies emphatically denied that this would be the case.

When asked how important this election was for Wales, Mr Davies said that it was ‘vital’.

“In 2021, people in Wales will be looking back at a missed opportunity,” he added. “We can’t afford another five years of Carwyn’s crisis.”

Mr Davies was somewhat more reticent when asked whether he would enter a coalition with UKIP to get Labour out of power in Wales: “408,000 people in Wales voted Welsh Conservative in 2015, and 401,000 voted for Carwyn Jones in 2011″

He said, neatly dodging the question : “So more people voted Welsh Conservative in the last 12 months and we have to make sure they turn up at this election.”

The polls in the run-up to the election, which show a gain for Plaid Cymru and a slight falling-away of Conservative support were disputed by Mr Davies, who reminded us that in the general Election, the Tories were polled at 14 points behind Labour in the Gower, which they ended up winning. “What I am seeing on the doorstep, and what all candidates across Wales are seeing, is a positive response for the Conservatives,” he claimed.

Ms Burns, currently predicted to lose her seat to Plaid Cymru, pointed out that ‘her death had been predicted twice before, ‘but I’ve managed to evade it!’ She claimed that when doorstepping in the Labour and Plaid Cymru heartlands ‘people had been positive about the story I have to bring.’

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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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