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Children’s unit at Withybush set to have reduced hours

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withybush (2)MEMBERS of Hywel Dda University Health Board will discuss temporary changes to the opening hours of the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit at Withybush Hospital whilst there are fewer consultant paediatricians available, at a full health board meeting on Thursday (Nov 24).

The issue has emerged due to a combination of long standing difficulties in recruiting paediatric consultants across the UK and an exacerbation locally due to the coinciding retirement of one Pembrokeshire paediatric consultant, along with maternity leave of another.

The Health Board said: “Doctors, nurses, hospital managers and the Executive Team have been in discussion about how to best serve children and families in Pembrokeshire by doing all that is possible to maintain the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush Hospital whilst there are fewer consultant paediatricians available. To do nothing is a risk. The health board’s prolonged attempts at substantive and locum recruitment have been unsuccessful and agency consultants are only sometimes available which creates the risk of an unsafe, unreliable and fragile service.

“The recommendation to full health board is to get agreement in principle to progress towards continuation of a 12 hour, seven day PACU at Withybush Hospital, with remote paediatric consultant support. However, the consultant recruitment difficulties mean we must consider how we can do this temporarily in a safe way until we have developed this method of working for our locality. One option for providing paediatric consultant cover, whilst minimising the number of families affected, is to reduce opening hours for PACU by four hours a day. This means PACU would be open from 10am until 6pm.

“There is also a recommendation, in line with original service change plans and advice from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, to merge the overnight on-call rota with the one operating in Carmarthenshire. This would mean that if there was a paediatric emergency out-of-hours at Withybush Hospital, the on-call paediatric consultants would offer remote advice.”

Chief Executive Steve Moore said: “We share the desire of our Pembrokeshire community to retain community and hospital services for sick children as close to home as possible and within the county whenever we can. We are committed to keeping the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit at Withybush Hospital open seven days a week and we think there is an option to allow us to safely do this, even with the renewed and significant workforce challenges.

“However, to do this safely, the recommendation from our staff is to temporarily reduce the opening hours of Withybush PACU by four hours a day.

“It is our duty to be realistic about the availability of our consultants and to plan care around this so that it is safe, consistent and to avoid public confusion. Otherwise, we risk the event of having insufficient staff and having to close the unit in an unplanned and uncoordinated way, risking patient safety and public confidence.

“Our recruitment efforts continue and we are pleased to have successfully appointed one agency consultant until the end of the month. We will review hours when the staffing situation improves and we want to work with our staff, partners and community to look at how we can strengthen services in Pembrokeshire, and across our whole area, in the long term.”

PACU is due to move closer to the Emergency Department at the end of the year and there are plans to strengthen links between the two departments, including development of Advanced Paediatric Nurse Practitioners. The health board also wants to improve telehealth links with the acute paediatric team based at Glangwili Hospital and provide more protected clinic time and community service capacity.

Clinical lead for Child and Adolecent Health Dr Simon Fountain-Polley said: “Families generally look after their own children for the majority of acute illnesses. If they need advice they can still access NHS Direct, community pharmacists, or their local GP. Most children, thankfully, don’t need to see the hospital paediatric team for acute illnesses. For that relatively small proportion of children who do, their GP can refer them into hospital services.

“Up until 6pm, Withybush Hospital PACU will still be open. After 6pm, the Withybush Hospital emergency department team will seek advice from Glangwili Hospital paediatric team, and if a child needs admitting they will be referred to the children’s ward at Glangwili Hospital, as is the case currently after 10pm.”

The health board will make a decision on Thursday and whatever the outcome will keep the situation under close monitoring.

In the meantime, the health board continues to reduce the impact on families as much as possible. This includes provision of the dedicated ambulance vehicle for transfers between Withybush and Glangwili hospitals, provision of funded transport schemes such as that provided by Action for Children, help under the NHS Travel Costs scheme and, in exceptional circumstances where no alternatives are available, vulnerable families will be provided with a paid for taxi to return home.

Paediatric consultant vacancies continue to be advertised with one applicant scheduled to be interviewed in January and the health board is speaking to potential recruits to demonstrate the benefits of working in Withybush Hospital and the wider paediatric team.

To support the intention to provide longer term continuation of the 12 hour PACU service at Withybush Hospital, with consultant support provided remotely by the acute paediatric team based at Glangwili Hospital, the health board plans to hold a patient, staff, public and stakeholder engagement process to co-design the future service for children in the area.

Pembrokeshire Assembly Members Paul Davies and Angela Burns have expressed their anger and frustration at the news.

Preseli Pembrokeshire Assembly Member Paul Davies said: “I’m extremely angry that the local Health Board are making plans to reduce the number of hours that the paediatric ambulatory care unit will be open at Withybush Hospital. Only a few weeks ago the Cabinet Secretary for Health made it clear in the Assembly Chamber that local families are being assured that they can continue to access services as they do now and do not need to make changes in how they access care.

“Well clearly the Welsh Government needs a much more robust dialogue with the Hywel Dda health board because that’s not the message that’s being heard in Pembrokeshire. Any further changes to this service would be catastrophic and the Welsh Government should urgently intervene to address this matter once and for all.”

He added: “Local people in Pembrokeshire will know that I’ve been campaigning to see our paediatric services re-established on a full-time basis and I’m extremely disappointed that some politicians are playing party politics with this very important issue, rather than standing up for families across Pembrokeshire.”

Assembly Member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Angela Burns said: “This is a deeply concerning turn of events and goes against recent promises by the Welsh Government.”

“We’ve all fought long and hard to keep a broad level of services at Withybush and for services to be reinstated, this kind of situation dents public confidence and sends out the wrong message to potential and current staff.”

“I will be monitoring the service delivery to ensure this “temporary situation” really is just that.”

The Health Board have also released an FAQ which covers what they believe will be the most common questions from the public. These questions can be found below.

What would this mean for Pembrokeshire families?

If Hywel Dda University Heath Board accepts the recommendations, it would mean in the short term, that the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush Hospital would be open daily, but would close at 6pm instead of the current 10pm.

What is PACU?

Withybush Hospital’s Emergency and Urgent Care Centres (EUCC) and PACU provide the vast majority of hospital care required for children in Pembrokeshire. About 75% of those children who are referred into Withybush Hospital PACU, are treated there and do not need to be transferred to another hospital. It provides care for children with sudden onset of pain, high temperatures, sickness, infections, or requirements for dressings, blood tests, x-rays or scans.

What about children who need to stay in hospital overnight?

Currently any Pembrokeshire children who need an overnight, inpatient stay in hospital, are transferred to Glangwili Hospital, in Carmarthen. This will remain the case under the recommendations. There is a dedicated ambulance vehicle for women and children’s transfers between Withybush and Glangwili and a parent or carer can remain with their child on transfer and on the wards.

What about sick children who need assessment after 6pm?

At the moment, children who require paediatric assessment after 10pm are referred or transferred by ambulance to the PACU at Glangwili Hospital. If recommendations are accepted, this will happen from the earlier time of 6pm.

What about hospital appointments for children?

Scheduled care including procedures, tests and outpatient clinics will continue at Withybush Hospital during the daytime. In addition, the PACU service described above will also be available 10am-6pm.

What do you do if your child is unexpectedly sick at night?

Parents should continue to access care for their children as they do now.

If your child is unwell, you can do a number of things:

  • Call NHS Direct Wales – 0845 46 47 – they can advise you if you are unsure what to do, as well as provide health information on a wide range of conditions, treatment and local health services
  • Use your community pharmacy if open
  • Make an appointment with your GP as usual, including out-of- hours GP services, which are contacted through your normal GP telephone number
  • For a paediatric minor injury, go to Withybush Emergency and Urgent Care Centre (EUCC) 24 hours a day
  • In an emergency, if your child is very sick, you should dial 999 for assistance. Children who present at Withybush Hospital out-of-hours will usually be transferred to Glanwgili Hospital for paediatric input. In the exceptional circumstance where emergency resuscitation is required, emergency and anaesthetic staff will resuscitate, stabilise, and arrange transfer onto another hospital.

What about families with open access?
The advice already in place after 10pm, will come into action from the earlier time of 6pm temporarily. Families will retain open access to both WGH and GGH PACU as they do now.

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Siblings raised £600 by Walking 20 Miles for Lifesaving Helicopter Charity

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PEMBROKE DOCK siblings, Harley and Maisie McNally, put on their walking shoes to raise £600 for the Wales Air Ambulance Charity.

The kind-hearted brother and sister walked 20 miles throughout March as part of the Charity’s 20th birthday fundraising challenge My20.

Seven-year-old Harley, and his little sister Maisie, 5, smashed their original target of wanting to raise £50 each.

Wales Air Ambulance marked its 20th anniversary this year and to acknowledge the milestone, the Charity created a new fundraising event called My20. The event allowed the participants to pick their own challenge, task or activity that reflected the number ‘20’.  

Harley is no stranger to fundraising for the Charity. He has previously raised over £300 by taking part in last year’s Saundersfoot New Year’s Day Swim. However, this was little Maisie’s first fundraiser.

Their proud mum, Jessica Hughes, is delighted that the children have raised so much money for the lifesaving charity, she said: “They both loved it. My20 kept them occupied and out of the house. I'm so proud of Harley and Maisie, at quite a young age they know so much about the service and have raised an amazing £600.

“Harley and Maisie understand completely why the Wales Air Ambulance is necessary for everybody and they also know people who have needed the service. This is why wanted to raise money for the charity, knowing its services have helped poorly people!”

Katie Macro, the Charity’s South West Wales Community Fundraiser, said: “A huge congratulations to two fundraising stars, Harley and Maisie, for completing the My20 challenge and raising £600! What you have both done, and the money you have raised, will help us to help others.

“It’s always wonderful to hear stories of children fundraising at such a young age and enjoying the challenge that they’ve chosen. Walking 20 miles is a lot for anyone, let alone when you’re as young as Harley and Maisie. Thank you to everyone who has support the children in their latest fundraiser.” 

There is still time to show your support to the Pembroke Dock Community School Pupils, Harley and Maisie, by donating to their My20 fundraiser via their Just Giving page Harley & Maisie’s My20  www.justgiving.com/fundraising/HarleyandMaisieWalk

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Six-year-old girl raises the alarm to a property fire

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MID AND WEST WALES FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE wish to thank six-year-old Mia, of Milford Haven, for her calm and quick thinking in alerting a neighbour to phone 999 to report a fire in a property.

On a Sunday afternoon, March, 28, 2021, Mia was passing the rear of a flat when she noticed smoke coming from the property. Having been taught the importance of reporting a fire, Mia immediately knocked on a neighbour’s door to inform them. The neighbour then called 999 and asked for the Fire Service.

At 05:52pm, Joint Fire Control received the call and deployed crews from Milford Haven to attend the property fire in Milford Haven.

The fire was confined to the kitchen area of the ground floor flat and had originated from a tea towel left unattended on an electric hob.

Firefighters extinguished the fire using two breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera.

The Fire Service left the incident at 07:03pm.

Crew Manager Rob Makepeace, Milford Haven Fire Station said “Because of Mia’s fast actions we were able to attend quickly, and the fire wasn’t allowed to escalate. She’s a local hero and an example to everyone.

The sooner you report a fire the quicker the Fire Service can attend to put the fire out and stop it from spreading.

Luckily, on this occasion, Mia was on hand to spot the fire and tell someone to phone 999 but I would urge everybody to install working smoke alarms in their homes and test them regularly. A working smoke alarm can alert you of a fire sooner and allow you to get out, stay out, phone 999 and ask for the Fire Service.”

For further Home Fire Safety advice or to talk about the possibility of a Safe and Well Visit by Fire and Rescue Service personnel, please phone 0800 169 1234.​​​ Alternatively please complete an online Request for a Safe and Well Visit​ form on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website: https://www.mawwfire.gov.uk/eng/your-safety/in-your-home/

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Tenby left ‘strewn with rubbish and smelling of urine’ after hundreds party

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TENBY was left with empty cans, broken bottles and fast food wrappers strewn everywhere, after over two hundred young people gathered to enjoy the weekend – perhaps expected whilst pubs remained closed.
Licensed establishment have not yet been able to open in Wales, but they are open in England for outdoor refreshments.

There were reports of young people walking through the town with boxes full of alcohol on Saturday night (Apr 17), with other people buying takeaway drinks from licensed premises before making their way to the harbour.
The sheer number of people meant people were urinating in the streets, some residents told The Pembrokeshire Herald.

Unlawful gathering: Party in full swing in Tenby as pubs remain closed (Image: Pure West Radio)

Facebook comments from people concerned included Larry Lambert who said: “Most of these are probably around my age, have some respect for the place, you all wouldn’t like it if this happened outside your house and left all the rubbish for you to wake up to, disrespectful!”

Kyle Scourfield said : “Aw guys. We’re literally on the track where we can see light at the end of the tunnel, don’t ruin it now. More importantly, pick up your rubbish and look after our coast. I’m bloody dying for the nightclubs so seriously, take it down a notch!”

Danny Wilson who took the below photo said on social media: “This [photo was taken] after nearly two hours of cleaning up. Completely blame the government for this if pubs were open there would be next to no take outs and 20 odd doormen keeping an eye on things every weekend, but that’s no excuse to act like absolute savages with zero respect for anything.

“I’ve never seen as much broken glass like there was today! Definitely give the harbour and castle hill a swerve for a couple of days if you’ve got kids or dogs.”

Tenby on Sunday morning (Apr 18) (Image: Facebook/Danny Wilson)

Pembrokeshire County Council operatives have been working since earlier this morning to remove rubbish in various locations in the town, including piles of bottles and other litter under picnic tables at the harbour.
The Tenby Observer has reported that in correspondence sent to Pembrokeshire County Council’s licensing department, county councillor for Tenby’s North ward Clr. Michael Williams said: “From as early as late afternoon, the situation at the harbour has become threatening with residents feeling unsafe due to the considerable numbers of individuals in the area consuming large quantities of alcohol.

“Police Officers appear to be overwhelmed by the numbers and are unable to take the necessary firm action to disperse a crowd that I estimated to be about 200. These kind of events are becoming a regular occurrence and action must be taken to address it.

“We appear to have taken several steps backwards to where we were a number of years ago when Tenby was becoming regarded as party central for groups of stag and hen events.

“Certain parts of the harbour estate are being used as a public urinal causing distress to families attempting to lawfully use the area.”

One local, who did not wish to me named said: “The police operation last week, which was widely publicised, seems to have failed miserably.

“Instead of going out last week when police were out in force, the youth of south Pembrokeshire seem to have waited until this weekend and have partied twice as hard.

“I understand that resouces are stratched but where were the police this weekend?

“Something needs to be done, we don’t want a third wave.”

Over the Easter bank holiday officers seized alcohol from young people, moved them on and prevented clashes between groups from escalating.

Speaking just ten days ago Sgt Stuart Wheeler said that there was concern from the Tenby community and that police were ‘keen to avoid a repeat of this behaviour’.

“This type of behaviour is distressing for people living and working in Tenby,” he said.

“We understand that the past few months have been difficult, and that children want to see their friends, but remember that only six people from two households can meet outdoors still.

“Please do your best to ensure your children are adhering to regulations that are in place for all our safety.”
The police have been contacted for an updated comment.

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