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Red line on hospital safety crossed

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red linePLAID CYMRU Preseli candidate John Osmond has called on Joyce Watson, Labour AM for Mid and West Wales, to use her vote in the National Assembly to halt the downgrading of Withybush Hospital.

“The Labour government in Cardiff has no majority for moving consultant-led maternity services from Withybush to Glangwili in Carmarthen, as announced by Health Minister Mark Drakeford last week,” John Osmond said.

“In a vote on the issue before Christmas the Assembly divided 28 to 28 – with all the Opposition parties voting against. However, the motion fell on the casting vote of the Presiding Officer who is obliged to support the status quo in a tied vote.

“On that occasion Joyce Watson sided with her Labour colleagues. But that was before the announcement was made. Now she should put her loyalty to the people of Pembrokeshire before that to her party whip.

“Joyce Watson, who lives in Haverfordwest, must know of the dismay and anger of people in the county at this decision which, if it goes ahead, will inevitably mean that sooner or later pregnant women and/or their babies will die inside ambulances on their way from Pembrokeshire to Carmarthen.

“In the debate on Withybush in the Senedd on November 27, Joyce Watson said: “What is clear to me is that Withybush must retain a service that can stabilise mother and baby when complications occur. That is a red line and a promise that has been given in the Chamber.”

“Well, that red line has now been crossed,” John Osmond continued. “It is clear that the intention is, when complications occur, for mothers and their babies to be taken by ambulance to Carmarthen.

“In the debate in the Senedd that followed the Minister’s announcement on Withybush on January 21, Joyce said: ‘Even with all the very best planning in the world, you can never anticipate the emergency that happens. That was the situation that I found myself in when I was having my son. Within 15 minutes, he was born. Had he not been born, I doubt very much that he would be here now for me to tell you that story. I also doubt very much that I would have been here looking as healthy as I do.’

John Osmond added: “Consultants at Withybush tell me that the maximum safe transfer time for a pregnant woman who experiences complications in childbirth is 20 minutes.

“When he made his announcement the Health Minister tried to address our concerns about the problems of distance and travelling times in Pembrokeshire. He said he wanted to see a ‘robust’ emergency transport service put in place before consultant-led emergency provision was removed from Withybush.

“All these issues have been placed in stark focus by the case of Mrs Kate Sutton, of Johnston, whose life was saved at Withybush hospital in the middle of the night a few weeks ago.

“I can tell the Chamber that detailed work will now go on, involving my officials and local health boards, to accelerate the introduction of a new round-the-clock emergency retrieval service for Wales, deploying specialised medical staff. The planning for that service will include the capacity to transfer sick babies and mothers in labour.”

Joyce’s reply

Asked for her response to this story, Joyce Watson said: “The health minister has confirmed that, while the midwife-led unit is being set up at Withybush, there will be consultant obstetric cover to support midwives. So, should they come across cases that they do not have the confidence or experience to deal with, there will be a consultant available to them. It is critical that all services in place after this initial establishing phase are built around the safety of mothers and babies.

“Hywel Dda has established an over-arching Programme Board to take forward the neonatal, obstetrics and gynaecology model, including ‘safety net’ requirements. I will continue to scrutinise the implementation of these services – including hospital transport – to ensure that the changes are in the best interests of patients in Pembrokeshire and throughout the Hywel Dda area. To that end, I was pleased that the First Minister confirmed once again last week that the future of Withybush hospital as a district general hospital is not under any threat whatsoever.”

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Milford Haven: Man charged over two burglaries and criminal damage

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE have released an update in relation to the spate of burglaries in Milford Haven

34-year-old Thomas John Picton has been charged with two burglaries and criminal damage in the town.

He is, say police, suspected of being involved in a burglary carried out at Cohen’s pharmacy of November 26, another at Heaven Scent shop and criminal damage to a door at The Precinct on the same date.

He will appear before Llanelli Magistrates’ Courts this morning (Dec 3).

An arrest has also been made in relation to a more recent burglary at the Royal British Legion on December 11. He was also arrested on suspicion of possession of class A.B and C drugs. He has been released under investigation.

One suspect is outstanding.

Some 11 arrests have now been made in connection with a spate of burglaries that has targeted businesses and homes in the town.

Dyfed-Powys Police has vowed to continue to crack down on suspects and prevent further burglaries in the lead up to Christmas.

Sergeant Terri Harrison from Milford Haven’s Neighbourhood Policing team said: “Hopefully this arrest provides some reassurance to the public following recent burglaries in the town. One burglary is one too many, and we will ensure that it will remain a priority for us, ensuring that we bring as much patrol cover and preventative effort as we possibly can.

“We are also aware of the impact that burglaries can have on individual householders and businesses alike. Don’t make it easy for them, stay alert to your surroundings and report anything suspicious to police immediately no matter how insignificant it may seem. The report of a suspicious vehicle or people acting strangely in your neighbourhood can help us to prevent and detect crime. We need to work together to tackle this.”

Chief Inspector Harries added: “There has been a significant amount of work carried out by the Criminal Investigation Department, response officers and neighbourhood policing teams from across the county to tackle this rise in burglary offences. We are committed to maintaining patrols in the area and seek support from the community to report any concerns.”

If you would like further advice on home security you can contact your local Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101.

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Carmarthen West & South Pembs still blue as Hart increases majority

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SIMON HART has retained his Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire seat with an increased majority.

Polling over 22,000 votes, he comfortably saw off the challenge of Labour’s Marc Tierney, who recorded just shy of 14,500 votes.

Plaid’s Dr Rhys Thomas polled over 3,000 votes in third. Alistair Cameron of the Liberal Democrats finished fourth.

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Stephen Crabb demolishes Labour with his biggest ever majority

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POLLING the largest ever number of votes for the Conservatives in Preseli Pembrokeshire, Stephen Crabb increased his majority in yesterday’s General Election.

Mr Crabb polled 21,381 votes against his nearest rival’s (Labour’s Philippa Thompson) 16,319.

Plaid Cymru finished third with 2,776 votes and the Liberal Democrats trailed home in fourth with 1,943 votes.

After Returning Officer Ian Westley announced the outcome, Mr Crabb gave a notably short victory speech in which he concentrated on thanking his opponents for a good campaign fought hard but with little personal rancour.

Philippa Thompson called on Mr Crabb to work for the benefit of all his constituents in response.

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