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‘Once in a lifetime’ reorganisation planned by Health Board

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THE LOCAL Health Board is embarking on a ‘once in a lifetime’ reorganisational plan which is looking at all potential options to ‘change the status quo and focus on improving health’ of locals.

This will involve, a press release has revealed, transferring more hospital services into the community where appropriate.

This is part of a strategy that the Health Board is looking into, to help solve an acute recruitment problem which is putting a great deal of pressure on the way that the Heath Board operates – and is leading to an untenable level of use of costly temporary staff to plug gaps and services.

In the summer of 2017, the Health Board embarked in an engagement with the public called ‘The Big Conversation’ which involved public workshops and drop-ins being held across the three counties of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

The Health Board now says the it has independently analysed opinions of the general public and has been using that data to explore, challenge and test different scenarios.

It is yet to be seen what these changes will mean for end service users.

The Herald understands it is likely to mean hospital services being reduced or cut, and replaced with community alternatives.

The Health Board has said it will not make any changes, unless it can guarantee the safety of the people which it serves.

The Health Board has insisted that no preferred option for change has yet been determined, and nothing has been signed off or agreed at this stage.

Medical Director Dr Philip Kloer said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our health service and community to work together to design an NHS which is fit for our generation and beyond. It has been acknowledged for some time across the UK that healthcare services are challenged like never before and we need significant change. Indeed this has been recognised in the recently published ‘Parliamentary Review of Health & Social Care’ here in Wales.

“We need to develop more proactive, resilient and better resourced local community services to support and improve people’s health and wellbeing, and avoid deterioration where possible. This will involve closer working with our partners, particularly colleagues in social care. We are also looking at ways of providing the most modern clinical practice, using the latest digital, technological, and new scientific developments, in fit for purpose facilities to provide better patient outcomes and experience.

“A number of our services are fragile and dependent on significant numbers of temporary staff, which can lead to poorer quality care. For us specifically in Hywel Dda, the geography we cover is large, with many scattered communities that are getting older, needing more holistic health and social care treatment and support. Because of this, we need to better resource our community based care, which is where most of our patient contact is, and help people manage their health conditions. We also need to evolve traditional ways of working and provide a more proactive approach. This should give patients – young, older and frail and everyone in between – the services they need when the need it, so people do not have to wait too long.

“This will mean changing hospital-based care, as well as community care, and we appreciate the attachment local people and our own staff have for their local hospitals. They have been cared for in them, or work in them, and they also play an important role in our wider communities. The options may propose change to a local hospital; however this is about more than the buildings. This is about investing in our communities, attracting doctors, nurses and therapists by operating a modern healthcare system and keeping hospitals for those who really need hospital care.

“We will not put in place any change that isn’t safe for our patients and population. And we will look at all the impacts from ensuring services are safer with better patient outcomes, to considering the wider impact on people, including the most vulnerable.”

Dr Kloer added: “The potential options are evolving, with changes to them on almost a daily basis. Many will never even reach public consultation, for a variety of reasons including safety, accessibility and affordability, or will change significantly as they are tested against population needs and healthcare standards.

“We will be coming back to the public in the spring with fewer options that have been more rigorously tested and we will open and honest about what we think our preferred option is and why. We would not, and cannot, propose something that would not be safe for our population.

“We live in this community, use our NHS and work for our NHS and we want to work with our patients, staff, partners and public to ensure it is the best it can be.”

Meanwhile, Elin Jones, Ceredigion’s Assembly Member, has called for urgency in the implementation of electronic records for NHS patients in Wales, following the publication of a report by the Wales Audit Office, ‘Informatics systems in NHS Wales’.

The report outlines several of the opportunities that electronic patient records can bring to patients and health boards, as well as the current obstacles to achieving this goal.

Elin Jones, who has long-called for a paperless NHS has welcomed the report, saying: “This is an important step in the development of health services in Wales, which is long-overdue. It would make our NHS more sustainable and more flexible to every patient’s needs.

“I have heard of many instances where patients have turned up to appointments in Llanelli, Swansea or Cardiff, only to find that their medical records have not arrived. These are people who have, in some cases, had to wait a long time for a specialist appointment, and have had to travel long distances, sometimes leaving very early in the morning or have arranged overnight accommodation in order to get to a 9 am appointment.

“Being turned away because their paper record has not arrived is a failure in the current system, and would be addressed directly by electronic records.

“The technology is available, it’s just a case of putting the funding in place.

“With the proper investment into the Welsh NHS by the Welsh Government, electronic patient records can help the NHS to deliver better outcomes for patients and to make more efficient and effective use of scarce financial and human resources.”

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Have your say on the council’s Gambling Policy

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PEOPLE living in Pembrokeshire are being asked for their views on proposed changes to the County Council’s Gambling Policy.

The policy explains how Pembrokeshire County Council handles the licensing of premises and issuing of permits for gambling.

The policy is currently under review and the County Council is keen to find out what local people think about issues such as the prevention of crime and disorder, and protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

Sarah Johns, the Authority’s Public Protection Manager (Public Health, Housing and Licensing), explained: “The review will give people the chance to make their views known about our policy and how we deal with gambling matters.

“We are carrying out an extensive consultation, asking a wide range of people and groups for their views including the Police and the licensed trade. All views will be considered carefully and will help shape our policy for the next few years.

“We urge people who have an opinion on this to get in touch and let us know what they think.”

Councillor Pat Davies, Cabinet Member for Housing and Regulatory Services said: “This is an opportunity for businesses and residents of Pembrokeshire to respond and be part of influencing policy that will ultimately affect their communities. Please use this consultation to have your say.”

The gambling policy can be viewed on the Council’s website: www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/licensing

Alternatively, contact the Licensing Team on 01437 764551 to view the policy at County Hall, Haverfordwest.

Comments must be received by 5pm on Friday, September 28.

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RSPCA ask public to not return unwell dolphins to sea

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THE RSPCA has issued a warning about how to respond to finding unwell or beached cetaceans, after two dolphins were inappropriately returned to the sea by members of the public in west Wales in recent weeks.

Officers say ‘well-meaning’ beach-walkers have sought to help beached dolphins by moving them back into the water, but that this is the ‘wrong thing to do for the animals, and their welfare’.

Last Sunday (Aug 5), a dead striped dolphin was found on Coppet Hall beach in the Saundersfoot area.

The RSPCA had previously responded to calls in the local area about the troubled striped dolphin – who had been beaching on a member of the public’s property. Unfortunately, in seeking to help the dolphin, members of the public refloated the unwell, thin and emaciated dolphin.

An RSPCA officer inspected photos of the dolphin and could ‘clearly see’ that the dolphin was suffering and should not have been returned to the wild in this way.


In a separate incident, the RSPCA was alerted after a washed-up, skinny dolphin was found on a Newgale beach last Tuesday (Aug 7). The animal welfare charity arrived to find a dolphin in poor bodily condition, which had recently died. Unfortunately, well-meaning members of the public had tried on several occasions to return the dolphin to the water.

RSPCA Cymru say dolphins tend to beach for a reason – often because they have major welfare complications, or even because they are dying. A summer plea has been issued urging anyone who finds a beached cetaceans to contact the RSPCA immediately, and not seek to refloat the animal.

Ellie West, RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO), said: “In many ways, it is a source of great pride that people across West Wales love wild animals and want to help.

“But returning a beached cetacean to the sea can be hugely counter-productive. People are obviously well-meaning in doing this – but usually it is the wrong thing to do for the animals, and their welfare.

“We were called out recently to help a striped dolphin, but this was returned to the water by members of the public.

“However, pictures of the poor thing – emaciated and thin – showed how this wasn’t the right thing by the animal. Later, we were alerted that the poor dolphin’s fate had been sealed – found dead in Saundersfoot.

“Similarly, in Newgale, we attended an incident where a very unwell dolphin had died. However, members of the public had spent some while trying to return the body to the sea – clearly kind-hearted, but sadly doing the wrong thing.”

RSPCA is also warning of the zoonotic risks of handling creatures like the dolphins found at Saundersfoot and Newgale.  

The charity works with the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) – in part funded by Welsh Government – which investigates whale, dolphin, porpoise, marine turtle and basking sharks stranded across the UK’s coastline.  Post-mortems to these animals can help establish a cause of death, and provide important insights into the health of populations living in the sea in a specific area.

ACO West added: “If anyone sees a beached cetacean, they should ring the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999, and provide as much information as possible about the location of the animal, and their condition. We can then do whatever we can to help – or at least alleviate the animal’s suffering as quickly as possible.

“It is a very distressing fact that often these animals are found on land with severe welfare problems, or have moved there to die. Returning them to the sea is not helping them however well-intentioned someone may be.

“There’s also substantial zoonotic disease risk of handling the animals in this way. This could be serious for human health.

“We work closely with CSIP, who do very important work in deciphering the cause of death for many cetaceans and other marine mammals. This work is vital – and where a beached, emaciated, troubled marine mammal sadly has to be put to sleep, we will often work with them so the cause of death can be established, and knowledge help support the wider population in the future.”

If you wish to help RSPCA Cymru, you can donate online. The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations.

 

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Woman thanks strangers for helping her during County Show incident

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A WOMAN who, along with her husband, was knocked down at the County Show on Wednesday (Aug 15) when a horse broke loose and went on a ‘rampage’ has thanked those who came to her aid.

Eight people were injured in the incident and five were hospitalised, including a 12-year-old boy and an 83-year-old man.

Jane Armitage, who was visiting Pembrokeshire with her husband and three dogs, posted a message on Facebook thanking those who helped her, her husband, and her pets.

She said: “My husband was one of those injured today at Pembrokeshire Show. He was knocked down by the horse and is now in hospital; I was also knocked down, but I got up!

“The reason for this post is to thank those people who I will probably never meet again. The local store owner who came straight out to ask if I was okay when my husband was on the ground; the paramedics who did such a wonderful job and looked after him so well; but most importantly in this post, at least, is those dog lovers at the show.

Air ambulance: Landing at the County Show

“When I fell, I was holding three labradors. Ellie the senior Labrador stayed close to me, but the two younger ones, black and yellow labradors, ran. I don’t know the name of the lady who caught Lottie, a black Labrador, near the cattle rings, also the lovely lady judge who picked up Dolly, a yellow labrador, and carried her to me, she was too scared to walk.

“I don’t know your names but I just wanted to say a huge thank you. Your kindness will never be forgotten.

“I also want to thank the couple who came to the paramedic’s area and offered to hold the dogs for me so I could go in and be with my husband.”

Despite being involved in the freak accident, Jane

“They waited with our three stressed dogs, calmed them and I can’t thank you enough for your kindness at such a difficult time. We look forward to coming to the show again next year.”

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