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Cancer Day Unit?

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day unitTHE Hywel Dda Health Board’s Glossy Charitable Funds Website has a quote which says: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.

Fine words indeed, said by an American anthropologist who died in 1978, not words from a local Pembrokeshire NHS Cancer patient. The words are excellent and very true, but a group of committed Pembrokeshire citizens have raised funds for ten years now for a new Cancer Day Unit and refurbished Ward 10 at Withybush Hospital and still they wait.

I recently read a Hywel Dda Charitable Funds Committee Summary Report which was written in November 2010. It stated that a decision could not be made until after the clinical review had concluded in the summer of 2011.

They provided assurances that the Cancer Day Unit was NOT under threat and the Chairman, Mr Chris Martin, agreed to issue a statement to provide assurance to the local population. The statement never happened and two and a half years on still nothing happens with the CDU and Ward 10.

In the report from a meeting, held on September 29, 2011 whose subject was the Charitable Funds Committee Report, point 13 stated: “Current (Charitable) Fund Balances – Charitable Funds could be used for priority items which had just failed to be funded from the Capital Programmes.” Is that what people have given donations for? And do they know this?

I was a member of the Cancer Day Unit Stakeholders Committee and we met regularly discussing the progress etc. In June 2012 the meetings stopped, a couple were arranged and then cancelled at short notice and then nothing. When asked, no one from Hywel Dda would give a reason why the meetings stopped.

I received a reply, to a Freedom of Information request I had made on March 1, 2012 which gave me the Hywel Dda Local Health Board Charitable Funds – Pembrokeshire Division Balances as at March 31, 2011.

I was criticised at one of these CDU Stakeholders meetings for doing this Freedom of Information request to ask for details of the Charitable Funds held for Ward 10 and the CDU, and for giving the details to the local newspapers. I felt the use of Charitable Funds was in the interest of the Pembrokeshire public, who after all had donated all this money.

The balance of Pembrokeshire Charitable funds was £3,056,252.86. My main concern is for Cancer Services and I was amazed to see that Ward 10 at Withybush Hospital, which is greatly in need of a facelift, had an incredible £292,705.01. I have spent a fair amount of time on Ward 10 due to my own cancer problems. It is certainly in need of some updating even if only to make it a more uplifting environment conducive to helping recovery. The staff on Ward 10 are excellent and I have nothing but praise for the work they do. How could it be justified to be sitting on nearly £300,000 which in all honesty had taken some time to accumulate?

The Cancer/ Chemotherapy Day Unit had £239,447.64 in charitable funds. It can be regularly seen in the local newspapers how people work hard to raise funds for this unit staffed by wonderful doctors and nurses. Many people who have sadly lost their fight with cancer leave money to the unit to help others in the future.

So why was £239,447.64 not being utilised to improve the unit? I owe my life to the staff on CDU and therefore feel I need to speak out for them. This was 2011, can you imagine how much has been added to the pot since then. Every week in the papers it shows people leaving money to the CDU and Ward 10.

However, since then the Charitable Funds position has changed. Now funds go into three pots, one of which is Cancer Services and can allegedly (because they will not confirm or deny) be spent anywhere in the Hywel Dda Health Board area. So money raised for Pembrokeshire by Pembrokeshire people is not necessarily spent in Pembrokeshire. So how much does the Cancer Day Unit and Ward 10 have now? Well no one at Hywel Dda seems to know when the question is asked.

I wrote to Mark Drakeford (Health Minister at the Welsh Assembly), in November 2013, who told me: “I have been informed that the Health Board is planning to create a CDU at Withybush Hospital by refurbishing existing accommodation with funds from local fundraising.” I wrote to Mr Chris Martin (Hywel Dda Chairman) who would only say services are being reviewed.

This week I saw the approved minutes of the Hywel Dda Charitable Funds Committee Meeting held on September 3, 2013. The agenda item CF(13)55 said: “The committee considered and agreed to ring fence the £300k towards the creation of a new Cancer Day Service and £250k for the refurbishment of Ward 10.”

This sounds brilliant, although we have been told that money has been ring fenced before and nothing has happened, but the next sentence says: “This development would help appease local feeling in Pembrokeshire and provide a positive message.” So the Health Board are going to “appease” the public of Pembrokeshire. What does appease mean to you? To me it is to pacify or placate, to bring peace, quiet, or calm to; to soothe.

The Pembrokeshire public do not want to be “appeased” they want a new Cancer Day Unit and a refurbished Ward 10. Many of us have gone through cancer, are going through cancer or will one day find out we have cancer. We need proper facilities and top quality services. We have top quality doctors and nurses on CDU and Ward 10 at Withybush Hospital so give them the tools to do the job properly.

Don’t get me started on poor old Dr Anne Barnes MBE (for services to Cancer Patients in Pembrokeshire) who desperately needs support as she does about three jobs at the same time on Ward 10, as consultants have left and not been replaced. So, Mr Trevor Purt, Chief Executive and Mr Chris Martin, Chairman of the Hywel Dda Health Board – “Where is our new cancer care unit?”

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‘Just do it’, advises 91-year-old leisure centre member

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ARE you struggling to find the motivation to keep fit?

Then help is at hand! Meet the inspirational Valerie Coleman – one of Pembrokeshire Leisure’s oldest members at 91 years of age.

Valerie attends an astonishing 10 classes a week at Fishguard Leisure Centre, from swimming to Pilates, chair aerobics and back care classes.

Centre manager Lisa Starkey said she was amazing. “Val really is an inspirational woman,” she said. “We are always so pleased to see her once, twice and sometimes three times a day. Her determination to keep healthy and active is inspiring to us all.”

A former nurse, Valerie was also an active PTA member who helped to fundraise for Fishguard’s old Leisure Centre which was replaced by the new centre 14 years ago.

“Val has been involved with leisure for some time and absolutely loves it,” said Lisa. “She has made so many special friends and coming to the leisure centre now is such an important social aspect of her life.

“Her mental health along with her physical health and wellbeing all benefit from her visits to the centre that she loves.”

Valerie praised staff at Fishguard for their support in helping her to recover after suffering a fractured femur, and said the centre had a ‘great atmosphere’.

“They have very helpful and understanding staff who are there for everyone and give encouragement to all of their customers,” she said.

“If you’re thinking about joining a leisure centre, just do it. The staff and facilities are here for everyone and all the encouragement you will ever need will be given.”

For information on leisure centre facilities and classes, or how to join as a member, please visit www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/leisure or pop into your local leisure centre.

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Warning to vessels after a dozen shipping containers lost off cargo ship

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MILFORD Haven Coastguard is investigating reports of up to 12 shipping containers adrift in the sea around the island of Grassholm, it has been confirmed.

It is believed the containers may have been lost by the Cyprus-registered Elbcarrier cargo ship, caught in storms while en-route to Dublin from Rotterdam.

Warnings have been given that at least a dozen containers overboard in the Celtic Sea on Sunday afternoon, December 8, after being caught in rough seas.

The drifting containers were spotted in the sea late on December 8, and further reports have stated they may now be near Grassholm Island.

Feetmon.com states: “Container ship ELBCARRIER lost containers overboard in Celtic sea in the afternoon Dec 8, while en route from Rotterdam to Dublin Ireland, being caught in rough weather. 12 drifting containers were spotted at 2330 UTC in vicinity 51 40N 005 50W,. Number of lost containers unknown. The ship reached Dublin in the afternoon Dec 9.”

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Milford Haven: Police called to Royal British Legion

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THERE was suspected break in at the Royal British Legion in Milford Haven overnight.

A representative from the Legion told The Herald on the telephone that the police were currently dealing with the matter, saying: “This is police ongoing at the moment and we are unable to comment.”

It is understood that cash was stolen from the premises.

Dyfed Powys Police has been asked for a comment.

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