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Flu sufferers being urged to ‘think carefully’ before seeking assistance

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WITH a recent rise in the number of recorded cases, health professionals are reminding people affected by flu to think carefully before seeking further medical assistance.

To ensure busy emergency services and GP practices are able to save lives and help those most in need, it is important to remember the vast majority of healthy people with symptoms of flu don’t need to see a doctor.

Flu is a viral infection for which antibiotics are not helpful – instead, the advice if you believe you may have flu symptoms is to stay home from work, school and other public places for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone to avoid infecting other people, drink plenty of fluids, take ibuprofen or paracetamol and avoid any contact particularly with vulnerable individuals while you have symptoms.

Most people will feel better within a week of becoming infected with the flu virus, although coughing may last for another one or two weeks. People are advised to have a look at the NHS Direct Wales symptom checker for cold and flu advice.

Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda explains how people can look after themselves this winter: “The first line of defence should be for people to get their flu vaccination so I would urge those of you that haven’t had your vaccine to contact your community pharmacy for advice on whether you are eligible. This is particularly important as we are now seeing cases of flu in the community, with numbers set to rise over the coming weeks.

“Free flu vaccination is available every year to people in at-risk groups – including those aged 65 and over, people with certain long-term health conditions, pregnant women, frontline healthcare workers, carers and young children. Anyone who has missed out on vaccination this year should speak to their pharmacist for advice; it is not too late for you to protect yourself and your family by having the flu vaccine.

“Health and social care workers are also strongly advised to get their flu vaccination from their local occupational health departments to protect the patients they care for.

“Viruses such as flu can be extremely serious for sick and vulnerable patients and we are asking for your support to protect patients and healthcare workers including not going to visit patients in hospitals and care homes if feeling unwell, we want to limit the spread of conditions such as flu and Norovirus.”

To help reduce the chances of flu spreading, people should:
•         Catch it: always cough or sneeze into a tissue
•         Bin it: dispose of the tissue after use
•         Kill it: then wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to kill any flu viruses

The public are also reminded to use local community pharmacy services to help reduce pressure on busy A&E departments this winter. These include a Common Ailments Service which covers a number of conditions whereby participating pharmacists can assess and provide medication at no charge, if suitable, without the need for a prescription and also, in participating community pharmacies, the Triage and Treat service to support those affected by low-level injury or illness. Visit www.hyweldda.wales.nhs.uk/winterwise for further details.

Mrs Jervis added: “We’re asking people who may be experiencing flu-like symptoms to call their GP surgery or visit https://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/SelfAssessments/symptomchecker/coldflu rather than attend the surgery or an A&E department, which can increase the risk of spreading infection to others.”

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Pembroke Dock: Former nurse jailed for 18 months

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A FORMER nurse from Pembroke Dock who lied to an inquest about the death of a vulnerable patient has been jailed for 18 months.

Lorraine Stevens, aged 62, told the hearing she had prepared a risk assessment on John Shelley, a mentally ill man prone to drinking harmful substances.

But she fabricated the assessment only after he drank a bottle of Fairy Liquid and died the following day.

Stevens admitted perjury.

Swansea Crown Court heard how Mr Shelley, aged 68, had been brain damaged at birth and needed constant care.

Mr Shelley’s brother Martin was told he was about to be transferred to 10 Church Close, in Begelly near Tenby, west Wales, a four bedroom bungalow for mentally ill patients.

Mr Martin Shelley, an engineer familiar with risk assessments, visited the premises and became alarmed at the lack of internal locks.

In particular, he didn’t want his brother having unsupervised access to the kitchen where he might find something harmful to drink.

Stevens, of Kitchener Close, Pembroke Dock, should have completed a risk assessment but didn’t.

Catherine Richards, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that on July 13, 2013, a kitchen window had been left open on the hottest day of the year and Mr Shelley reached in and drank from the Fairy Liquid bottle.

Stevens, the team leader and the only qualified nurse on duty, told staff to give him plenty of water to drink and, later, to give him ginger biscuits and milk.

Stevens left work early. The staff who took over became concerned and he was taken to Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest.

But his condition deteriorated and he died the following day through multiple organ failure.

Martin Shelley told the authorities he had not seen a risk assessment and Stevens suddenly produced one, assuring him that staff would have been shown it.

The report was produced at an inquest into Mr Shelley’s death held in 2014. Stevens told the coroner the four page report, which addressed Mr Shelley’s access to the kitchen, had been prepared on April 14, 2013.

Mr Shelley became suspicious because it had been signed only by Stevens herself when all staff should have signed to confirm they had read and understood it.

Police became involved and seized a computer from 10 Church Close which showed the report had been compiled on July 18, 2013, four days after the fatality.

After her arrest, Stevens maintained the report was genuine and dated accurately.

When she was told later about the computer findings she declined to answer any more questions.

Stevens’ barrister, Jon Tarrant, said she would live forever with the guilt and remorse she felt over Mr Shelley’s death, but described it as a tragedy without intention.

It was difficult to know, he added, if a proper risk assessment would have avoided the fatality.

Mr Martin Shelley was allowed to address the court and said he believed his brother might not have died if all staff had understood how important it was to keep him away from harmful liquid substances.

The bungalow, he said, housed four mentally ill patients but had not been purposely built for someone with his brother’s difficulties.

“I was assured that a risk assessment would be carried out before he moved in, particularly in relation to the lack of internal locks.

“He was let down in his hour of need.

“His death, pain, suffering and distress could have been avoided,” he added.

The court heard that Stevens had been struck off as a nurse.

Judge Keith Thomas told Stevens she had fabricated the report and then lied about it to avoid criticism.

“You did this to cover up the fact you had not made proper provision for the challenges posed by Mr Shelley.

“I am not dealing with you for causing the death but for you did cause additional distress and anxiety to his family.

“You were deceitful and your lies were persistent,” he added.

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Pembrokeshire Lottery player wins brand new car

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PEMBROKESHIRE LOTTERY held their long-awaited Big Birthday Draw to celebrate their 25th anniversary. The lucky player who won the prize of a Fiat 500 from PMS Cars in Haverfordwest was Diane Boucher from Pembroke.

The draw was aired on 102.5 Radio Pembrokeshire and presenter Tommo rang Diane live on air to break the happy news.

Diane, who works at Hafal Crossroads in Haverfordwest didn’t realise it was the special birthday draw and thought she’d won the usual £2,000!

A couple of days later, Diane met Pembrokeshire Lottery Manager Abigail Owens and was handed the keys to her brand-new car. PMS owner John Green, who very generously upgraded the car to a top of the range Lounge model, was on hand to congratulate Diane in person.

The Big Birthday Draw comes as the Lottery’s special year of celebrations nears its end, but there are still extra prizes in December plus the £10,000 Christmas Superdraw.

If you don’t play yet, ring the Pembrokeshire Lottery on 01646 690800 to join and help them to assist more businesses in Pembrokeshire and create even more jobs. You could be a lucky winner too!

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Allied Healthcare to ‘minimise disruption’ as it looks to sell and transfer services

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ALLIED HEALTHCARE, who provide care services across Pembrokeshire, is exploring a range of options which include ‘the sale or transition of care and support services’, the Herald can reveal.

An employee from the troubled firm, who wished to stay anonymous, has shown the Herald a letter which has been sent to all employees this afternoon (Nov 16).

In the letter, the company says that the firm is looking to ‘minimise disruption to continuity of care’.

They go on to add that ‘our absolute priority will be to maintain continuity of care for our service-users and minimise disruption to you, our employees’.

In a letter to the employees, Narinder Singh, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, said: “As you know, early last week, CQC Market Oversight – the Regulator that monitors large social care providers in England – issued what is known as a Stage 6 Notification to our Local Authority customers in England. This type of notification is intended to inform Commissioners that a Company is at risk and therefore Local Authorities or CCGs should consider making plans to ensure continuity of care.

“Unfortunately, I am writing to you today to inform you that, because of the impact of the Stage 6 notification on our business, and because the upcoming winter period is when ensuring continuity of care is most challenging, we have taken the decision to actively explore a range of options in order to minimise disruption to continuity of care.

“This will include the sale or transition of care and support services on a regional or contract-by-contract basis to alternative providers best placed to deliver care at a local level. This process will be conducted in close cooperation with all our customers.”

The letter goes on to reassure employees that they are ‘likely’ to be transferred to a new provider.

“It is our intention to transfer all of our Contracts to other providers.  This will mean that you are likely to transfer out to a new provider. When arranging the transition of our services to alternative providers, our absolute priority will be to maintain continuity of care for our service-users and minimise disruption to you, our employees.

“We will continue to trade safely while this transition process is underway and, during this period, there will be no changes to the terms of employment, salary or benefits of our employees. To reiterate, this means that you will continue to be employed by the Company and receive pay and benefits while the transition of our care services is arranged.

“I understand that this news will come as a surprise to you and may be unsettling. Please be assured that we will continue to do all we can to support you throughout this period and will respond to any concerns or questions you have throughout the process.

“On behalf of the Executive team and myself, I would like to offer our most sincere thanks for the continued support and efforts you have shown to the business during this very difficult time. We continue to remain committed to supporting you, our employees and Allied.”

A spokesperson for Allied Healthcare said: “The Stage 6 notification has negatively impacted Allied Healthcare, leading a number of customers to transfer care services to alternative providers, and disrupting staff retention and recruitment.

“These developments have intensified the impact of the challenging environment within which we operate and come immediately prior to the Christmas period, when pressures on care providers are at their highest. This has also meant that we have had to re-evaluate our long-term business plan.

“We are therefore actively exploring a range of options in order to minimise disruption to continuity of care, including the sale or transition of care and support services on a regional or contract-by-contract basis to alternative providers best placed to deliver care at a local level. Such sales or transitions will involve the transfer of staff. This process will be conducted in close cooperation with our customers.

“We continue to trade safely while this process is underway. RBS as our existing lender has agreed to extend our current credit line by up to three weeks beyond 30 November, enabling us to deliver safe continuity of care whilst we explore and implement these options.

“We will work closely with the CQC and all commissioners of care to ensure that there is minimal disruption to the care that we provide across the UK whilst this transition takes place. Continuity of care is our number one priority.”

Pembrokeshire County Council said it would like to reassure Allied Healthcare service users and their families that it has robust contingency plans in place ‘to ensure the continuity of care for customers of Allied Healthcare’

“Those plans will now be implemented”, a spokesman said.

In a statement, the Authority added: “County Council officers and staff at Allied Healthcare will continue to work closely with each other and with health colleagues and the Welsh Government to
ensure that continuity of care is maintained through this challenging time.

“We will continue to keep service users and their families briefed as the situation unfolds.
If customers do have any concerns over the weekend, they are advised to contact Allied Healthcare.”

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