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Questions over £25m for maternity care at Glangwili

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THE WELSH GOVERNMENT has announced its approval of £25m of funding for upgraded neonatal care at Glangwili Hospital, only a week before the Board is due to consult on radical changes to clinical services across west Wales.

The announcement was made during a visit to Glangwili by Cabinet Secretary for Health, Vaughan Gething.

The £25m investment at the hospital is a hangover from the last round of changes and cuts to clinical services, which saw consultant-led obstetric services stripped from Withybush Hospital, with assurances made that facilities at Glangwili were fit and ready to accept more patients.

Shortly after services were transferred, a report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health stated that facilities at Glangwili were not up to the standard required of a modern consultant-led unit and that significant sums of money were required to bring them up to snuff, stating: ‘The Glangwili labour ward is not fit for purpose; it is too small, with insufficient facilities and provides a poor environment for women and staff. The increased numbers of women using the unit, including those with high-risk pregnancies from Pembrokeshire has put additional pressure on the staff with two culturally very different teams learning to work together in cramped and difficult conditions.’

The Board accepted the Royal College’s recommendations and – due to the requirements of making out a business case to the Welsh Government – it has taken two years to secure funding to carry out the work recommended in September 2015 to deal with the fall out of the last reorganisation. That business plan predated the Board’s current and ongoing intention to reorganise west Wales’ healthcare in what is widely being trailed as ‘once in a generation’ change.

Speaking during the visit, the Cabinet Secretary said: “I’m delighted to approve £25million Welsh Government funding for the further redevelopment of Glangwili Hospital’s obstetric and neonatal facilities.

“This funding will improve the clinical quality, safety and innovation at the site. It will mean better access to services for patients and their parents, as well as improving the well-being of staff. This investment will address the urgent areas of concern highlighted in the Royal Colleges’ report on maternity services in Hywel Dda Health Board.

“This should significantly improve the patient experience and accommodation for families and, as it is a larger unit, may also reduce the risk of families having to travel out of our area for care due to capacity reasons.”

Hywel Dda University Health Board Chief Executive Steve Moore said: “We welcome this news as women, children and their families deserve to have better accommodation than we are currently able to offer at Glangwili Hospital. We hope this provides our population with confidence that we will now proceed with pace to make these improvements.”

Work is expected to start before the autumn and the aim is for the scheme to be complete by 2020, by which time the future of service provision should be decided. It appears that investing £25m at Glangwili in these circumstances would be unlikely to proceed to completion of the project.

We asked the Welsh Government whether or not the £25m investment was certain to proceed, but did not get a reply to our enquiry.

We put the same point to the Health Board, who told us: “We note there has been concern that the delivery of this capital project may be adversely affected by our forthcoming consultation on the future of health services in the Hywel Dda University Health Board area which, subject to Board decision, is due to launch on Thursday, April 19.

“We would like to reassure our population that our business of providing healthcare to the very best of our abilities continues – this is the right thing to do and what our patients deserve and should rightly expect from the NHS.

“We cannot pre-judge what the outcomes of our proposed consultation may be, and even if there is change to Glangwili OR Withybush Hospital in the future, this may be several years ahead. We continually evolve and improve our services, responding to advances in medicine and technology, and this will continue.”

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire AM Angela Burns, the Conservative’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: “Only in January the Cabinet Secretary announced £1.2m for the Board to put together a business case for further improvements to the neonatal and maternity services at Glangwili. The business case is supposed to go out for public consultation and is expected to be received by the Welsh Government this summer.

“This – very welcome – £25m is to make headway on the promise made by the Welsh Government years ago that the sacrifice of the Haverfordwest SCBU would result in a level two Special Care Baby Unit and provide better maternity facilities at Glangwili.

“It’s about time, but I have to wonder whether this is just easing the way for potential further radical changes and if the money will still head to Glangwili if the reconfiguration proposals pull services away from the hospital.”

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Pembroke Dock man caught up in Windrush problem

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A MEMBER of the Windrush generation who spent twelve years in Pembroke Dock has been told he is living in the UK illegally.

Whitfield Francis, 59, moved to Britain when he was seven years old, later living and working in Pembroke Dock, where family still live.

The Windrush generation refers to migrants from the Caribbean members of the Commonwealth, who arrived in response to post-war labour shortages.

This classification lasted until the 1971 Immigration Act, when Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK were given indefinite leave to remain.

The name is a reference to the ship MV Empire Windrush, which arrived at Tilbury Docks, Essex, on June 22 1948, bringing workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago amongst other islands.

Francis said how he moved from Jamaica as a child, and whilst he has relatives there, he is a ‘stranger to Jamaica’.

The pressure on placed him has left him living ‘a stressful life’ and he went on to say: “I can’t get a job because I haven’t got the paperwork.”

The PM and the Opposition have clashed in the House of Commons after the Windrush generation were told they are residing in Britain illegally, despite living and working in the UK for decades.

Issues in proving otherwise stem from the fact that landing cards of the original migration were destroyed in 2010, despite being used by the subsequent generations to prove they had a right to remain in the UK.

Most recently Mr Francis has been ‘sofa surfing’ between Pembroke Dock and his sister’s house in Birmingham where he hopes to get work, yet he is in need of a biometric card first, which will mean proving he is entitled to work in the UK.

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MP visits Central America on trade envoy mission

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Simon Hart MP: With President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina

SIMON HART MP has visited Panama, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica to encourage trade links with Wales and the UK in his new role as the UKs’ first trade envoy to the area.

Whilst in Central America he met the Presidents of all three countries and joined the British ambassador in hosting receptions for businesses interested in trading with the UK.

As trade envoy his role is to facilitate and negotiate trade relations and marketing interests between the three countries and the United Kingdom. 

The UK is the fourth largest investor in Panama, with $2.6bn spent there in 2016.  Many UK companies – in more than a dozen sectors – have their regional offices in Panama and the number one export from the UK to the area is alcoholic spirits.

“All three countries love their whisky in particular which is why I took each president a bottle of Penderyn whisky from Wales to introduce them to the product,” explained Mr Hart.

The Panamanian President, Juan Carlos Varela, announced Simon Hart’s arrival via his personal twitter: “We talked about the opportunities to strengthen the trade ties between Panama and the United Kingdom.”

As well as President Varela, Mr Hart also met British companies with an already established presence in Panama and visited the Miraflores Lock of the Panama Canal.

Mr Hart added: “My position as trade envoy to Panama was met with great hospitality and sincerity by all, it was a fascinating tour and I hope that it will result in closer trading links between our countries.”

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Local student wins writing competition

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Imogen Grimes, Hope Raymond, and Will Letten: With members of Saundersfoot Rotary Club

WILL LETTEN of Castle School successfully secured his place in the next round of this year’s Rotary Young Writers Competition against stiff opposition.

The judges from the Rotary Club of Saundersfoot were impressed by his story and the novel way in which he cleverly made sure it worked with this year’s theme – ‘A Different Perspective’.

Pupils from the local area were invited to enter and tasked to produce a piece of writing of no more than 500 words on any subject of their choosing. It could be fiction or non-fiction, a story or a poem. The only requirement was that it must relate to the theme.

Members of the club were fascinated by the variety of stories produced. Topics included the impact of humans on the environment, the ticking of a clock and the battle between wild animals.

They told us: “We know the children from Castle School put a lot of effort into their entries so it’s always difficult to choose a winner. And of course, creative writing is subjective.”

They were, however, intrigued to read Will’s take on the not-so opposing views of two soldiers from either side of no-man’s land during the first world war.

Will was surprised and excited to have won in the Intermediate age-group and told us: “I am very interested in everything about World War One. There is a lot about that time in the news at the moment, because of the centenary but for me it’s about an event that changed the course of history. I was particularly inspired by the tale of ordinary men in both the English and German trenches who held a temporary truce on Christmas Day to play a game of football.”

One of the judges, Jim Ball, commented that it reminded him of conversations he had shared with his one of his grandfathers, a WWI veteran and his recurring memories of the horror of war and of the casualties, both those who had fallen and those lucky enough to survive. This, he reflected, was in stark contrast to his other grandfather who had chosen never to raise the subject again.

Imogen Grimes and Hope Raymond were also picked out for their entries in the same age-group and, so difficult was it to choose between them, the judges decided to award two runner-up prizes.

Imogen was also surprised to win.

She told us: “I wrote about aliens coming to earth because I wanted to write something light-hearted. I wrote about humans from their perspective, making them out to be very judgemental, believing themselves to be a superior race and shocked by the damage we were doing to our own planet.”

The judges clearly agreed.

Mr Ball told us: “It was full of humour and made me laugh!”

In contrast, he felt that Hope’s poem was very moving and thoughtful. She had approached her chosen subject from a very different point of view, dealing with the way in which people cruelly regard others who are different from them.

Hope explained: “I feel very strongly that people who may appear ‘different’, perhaps having mental health issues. Often, they are misjudged and ignored or ill-treated and I think this is very wrong. I wanted to write a poem that challenged many people’s preconceptions about mental illness and to make them realise that they should be more sympathetic and supportive and not dismissive.”

Will now goes through to represent the region in Cardiff. Although judging is already in progress, he won’t find out the results until June 21, when the prizes are awarded in Cardiff. If successful, he will then go on to represent the country in the national finals which will take place later in the year in London.

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