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Protestors: ‘Stop the downgrade!’

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the downgradeON THE WEEKEND that Hywel Dda LHB acknowledged that Accident and Emergency Services at Withybush Hospital were “under extreme pressure”, protesters gathered outside to protest about plans to downgrade maternity and paediatric provision at the Hospital.

The timing could scarcely have been worse for the Health Board to make such an announcement. With minor injury units closed in Tenby and Pembroke Dock within the last twelve months, ostensibly to ensure full A & E service provision at Withybush, the Health Board’s request to “Choose Well” and rely on GP’s and pharmacist fuelled the concerns of over 700 protesters gathered at the hospital gates.

“Only go to A&E if you really need it,” said a spokesperson for the health board.

“The public are therefore being urged to help reduce the pressures by ‘Choosing Well’ to ensure busy emergency services are available to those who most need them, but also that you get the right treatment, in the right place and in the shortest possible time.”

Hywel Dda LHB refused permission for protesters to stand in the hospital car park. Those protesting by the hospital gates expressed fears that the downgrading of key services at Withybush represents the thin edge of the wedge. The mood was angry but determined as speaker after speaker heralded the importance of Withybush’s services to Pembrokeshire and condemned the Local Health Board’s plans to downgrade services. Speaking after the rally, Paul Davies said “The protest outside the hospital on Saturday demonstrates the huge strength of feeling against closing the Special Care Baby Unit and the opposition to the potential downgrading of other services in Pembrokeshire. Local people are angry that life saving and core emergency services could be under threat. I want to congratulate residents for turning out on Saturday to show their support. It’s essential that in Pembrokeshire we all work together to ensure that vital life-saving services are retained in the County.”

Plaid Cymru’s Preseli candidate John Osmond, also joined protesters against service cuts at Withybush Hospital.

Speaking to the hundreds of local people, John said; “We won the fight to save Withybush hospital in 2007 and, together, we can win the fight again.

“When Withybush was last under threat, in the run-up to the 2007 Assembly election the main response I heard on the doorstep was that there was nothing we could do – the decision had already been made. But my message then was that we can make a difference if we stand up to be counted and use our vote. If there’s one thing politicians take note of, it’s the ballot box.”

Vicky Moller told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Storms at Newgale beach hurled a wall of pebbles from the beach to cover the A487 on January 5th. The road was closed causing a long cross-country diversion along single lane roads.

Alternatively a wider diversion meant a 24 mile journey to Haverfordwest and a 54 mile journey to Glangwili.

“This is just one example of the hold-ups that often happen in Pembrokeshire, due to traffic in the summer, storms in the winter, road works in between.

“Hywel Dda LHB’s proposal seems to be to leave areas at risk of storms, where tourists swell the population and industrial high risk zones with no-one able to perform emergency operations.”

Another protester said:“If this hospital closes wards we will have to travel many miles to get treatment. The cost to us in money we may live with but what is the cost of a child’s life”

As revealed by the Herald last week, in other Welsh maternity units that have been downgraded from consultant –led to midwife-led, an average of 8 women a week have to be transferred back to a consultant-led unit: in the case of expectant mums at Withybush Hospital this would mean a lengthy road journey by ambulance to West Wales General Hospital, Carmarthen, over fifty minutes away.

Responding to the protest, a Hywel Dda spokesperson said

“ Our intention remains to retain a paediatric, gynaecology and obstetrics presence at Withybush Hospital; however this remains subject to further discussion with the scrutiny panel and clinicians.”

The Herald understands that a protest march is planned for the weekend of January 25, 2014.

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Police turn away caravans and campervans heading for Pembrokeshire

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PEMBROKESHIRE is currently closed to visitors’ is the message from Dyfed-Powys Police as officers work to prevent the spread of Coronavirus within the county.

Despite the Prime Minister placing the UK under lockdown on Tuesday (March 24), some people continue to flout the rules and are still treating the area as a holiday destination.

Sergeant Hamish Nichols, of Dyfed-Powys Police, said patrols conducted over the last two days had resulted in more than 200 reminders to the public about what currently counts as ‘essential travel’.

“Yesterday we turned away numerous caravans and camper vans whose owners were travelling to Pembrokeshire to self-isolate,” said Sgt Nichols.

“We have also spoken to two campsite owners who have been open for business, and have issued stern advice to them and to all holidaymakers.

“While the majority of local people have taken the government guidelines seriously too many people seem to think the rules do not apply to them.

“The message is clear – this is a lockdown, not a holiday, and anyone who ignores the current restrictions not only puts people’s lives in danger but also risks further action being taken against them.”

Patrols of beaches, coastal areas, and other public spaces will continue this weekend, with officers also conducting increased stop checks on roads across the force area.

Where members of the public refuse to listen to advice, officers will be able to issue penalty notices of £30, which if not paid within 14 days double to £60.

Individuals who do not pay a fixed penalty notice could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose further fines.

If an individual continues to refuse to comply, they will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them.

“Enforcement is a last resort, and officers will always apply their common sense and discretion to every situation,” said Sgt Nichols.

“But the powers are now available and we will use them if we have to.”

Chief Inspector Louise Harries added: “Our staff are working tirelessly in already difficult times and I ask that people adhere to the simple rules set.

“This will enable us to put our resources towards supporting all agencies in response to this crisis and continuing to protect our communities and victims.”

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Bluestone National Park Resort is to become a COVID-19 recovery centre

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Bluestone National Park Resort is to become a Recovery Centre for patients in Pembrokeshire, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the wake of the ongoing public health emergency, part of Bluestone’s extensive facilities, as well as open spaces, will be utilised to help treat those in need and those recovering from the virus. Bluestone is joining a local, regional, and national effort to do everything possible to prepare for the unfolding outbreak – and ultimately save as many lives as possible.

Bluestone provides a significant addition to the resources and facilities of Hywel Dda University Health Board, which is responsible for the health and wellbeing of the residents of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

Members of the Bluestone Team will continue to provide security and management of some of the facilities on the site, while the Health Board will manage the addition of medical resources, and Pembrokeshire County Council will lead work on the site. The details of additional personnel required to support the effort, under the full guidance of the Health Board, are currently being worked up, and the facility will available to those in need as soon as possible.

Dr Phil Kloer, Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive at Hywel Dda, said: “We have followed the situation in Italy closely to learn where possible and to help our planning. Our European colleagues have provided feedback that patient flow and throughput is a critical factor in response to COVID-19 pressures. Delivering these additional beds for patients will therefore be essential to help us manage patient flow over the coming weeks. We are extremely grateful for all of the support that we are receiving from Bluestone and Pembrokeshire County Council to help make this happen and am confident this facility will offer a good environment in which our patients can recover.”

Speaking following the announcement, William McNamara, CEO of Bluestone said: “We are living and operating in previously unimaginable circumstances. It is moments like these that it’s vital we come together to support each other – as family, as friends and as a community.

“It is right that Bluestone is utilised in this time of great national need. We all want – and need – to do whatever we can to make a difference and contribute to tackling the unfolding coronavirus emergency.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with those who are personally affected by this unfolding situation.”

Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, added: ”We are very grateful to William and the Bluestone Team for coming forward and making the Bluestone site available. The facilities are going to provide significant additional resources to the local area as we battle the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

“I know that this is an uncertain and worrying time for residents across Pembrokeshire and Hywel Dda. The community is doing a truly heartening job of pulling together – and we will get through this together.”

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Be a considerate neighbour during the coronavirus lockdown

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DURING the current lockdown, Pembrokeshire County Council has seen an increased number of complaints from members of the public who are affected by the actions of their neighbours.
While we are all largely confined to our homes, we ask householders to consider the impact of their actions on others, especially the elderly and vulnerable and those on night shifts.
During the first full week of lockdown we have seen some sunny, warmer weather. It has been ideal for spending time in the garden or on balconies but please be considerate and ensure your actions do not disturb your neighbours.
The Council wishes to stress that most activities will not be a problem but we would ask you to think about the volume of your music and the times that you are doing any DIY.

Music:
• consider the volume of any stereo equipment. If it can be heard beyond the boundary of your home/garden, it is too loud and needs to be turned down
• position any speakers indoors, pointing away from neighbouring properties
• don’t put speakers on party walls or floors
• don’t stand outside making noise on balconies or in gardens late at night

DIY:
• is the work noisy? Keep noisy work to a minimum and think about the hours you are undertaking this work. Try not to do this work late at night
• will the work cause any other issues such as dust problems? If outside please think about the wind direction
• is the work on shared walls where neighbours can hear? Consider the time of day when doing this work
• call neighbours and tell them about the work and how long for so they will be aware and can discuss any concerns they may have (they may be on night shifts)

Can I have a Bonfire?

We ask householders to be considerate and think about what you are burning. Serious harm is unlikely if exposure to bonfire smoke is brief but problems maybe caused for asthmatics, bronchitis sufferers, people with heart conditions and children.
Bonfire Guidelines:
When lighting a bonfire please follow the guidelines listed below to prevent causing problems with neighbours or causing a serious nuisance.
• only burn dry material, do not burn damp material – damp material is likely to smoulder and therefore produce more smoke. This will contain pollutants including carbon monoxide, dioxins and particles.
• never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic, foam or paint – this not only creates an unpleasant smell but also produces a range of poisonous compounds.
• never use old engine oil, meths or petrol to light the fire or to encourage it
• avoid lighting a fire in unsuitable weather conditions – smoke hangs in the air on damp still days and in the evening. If it is windy, smoke may be blown into neighbour’s gardens and across roads.
• avoid burning when air pollution in your area is high or very high. This information is included in weather forecasts, or you can check by ringing 0800 556677
• never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder – douse it with water if necessary.
Dogs:
Dogs may bark because they are lonely. Constant barking or whining can be disturbing to your neighbours. A well-trained, happy dog will not bark unnecessarily. Please don’t leave dogs outside for long periods unattended. The lockdown is a great time to play with your dog and keep them entertained.

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