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Neyland: St Clement’s Surgery to close in September

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HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD has approved an application by Argyle Medical Group to close St. Clement’s Surgery, Neyland, from September 1 owing to significant workforce pressures associated with the recruitment and retention of GPs.

Since January, the Health Board has been seeking the views of patients, neighbouring practices, the Community Health Council and other stakeholders on the proposed closure, and has held a well-attended drop-in event in Neyland in which patients spoke about the impact of any closure, including concerns about travel and transport and access to GP appointments.

The Health Board is writing to all affected patients this week to explain the decision and to keep them updated on further developments.

Further discussions have taken place with Argyle Medical Group, which despite trying to recruit GPs for their vacancies is expected to lose another GP in June. As a consequence the Practice’s overall sustainability position is concerning.

Meeting in January: Locals were very concerned

In its decision making over the future of St. Clement’s Surgery, the Health Board says it has tried to balance the needs of patients in the Neyland area with the risks to the struggling Practice and the whole Practice list.

At the same time, detailed discussions have been underway with stakeholders to examine if these important services can be delivered in Neyland in other ways.  These discussions are continuing and have been positive but no firm proposal has been agreed to date.

Elaine Lorton, Assistant Director of Primary Care, said: “As a Health Board we recognise that this decision will be very disappointing for many patients.  Unfortunately however, the scale of the pressures on Argyle Medical Group is increasing and action needs to be taken to ensure the Practice remains stable for the future for the whole of the population.

“Until such a time as a plan for the alternative provision of services for patients in Neyland is successfully developed, the Health Board views the closure of St. Clement’s Surgery as a necessary move.”

A number of conditions have been put in place to help protect services for patients who will be affected.  These conditions include that the Surgery remain open until September 1 and that Argyle Medical Group work to maintain access to their services for patients in the area.

Patients will continue to be registered with Argyle Medical Group after the closure date of September 1 and the Practice will continue to provide services such as home visits where appropriate.

Patients who need to see a GP or nurse for a face-to-face consultation will need to travel to Argyle Surgery in Pembroke Dock.

Mrs Lorton added: “The Health Board will keep patients informed of developments and will provide opportunities for the public to engage. Argyle Medical Group will also be undertaking a major review of their arrangements for accessing appointments at Argyle Surgery and St. Oswald’s Surgery, and this will include telephone consulting services for those patients who do not clinically need to have a face to face appointment.  The Practice will work on arrangements to prevent patients having to make multiple journeys to make appointments.

“The Health Board and Argyle Medical Group will continue to work positively and proactively with the community to identify and support opportunities to deliver services via a network with neighbouring practices and the local Community Pharmacy.”

Assembly Member Paul Davies said: “I’m deeply disappointed that Hywel Dda University Health Board has approved the application to close St Clement’s surgery in Neyland. This will have a detrimental impact on patients at the surgery, who will now have to travel further for treatment and incur a financial cost due to travelling over the Cleddau Bridge.”

He added: “It’s clear that both the local health board and the Welsh Government have failed to attract doctors to the local area and now patients are paying the price. In light of this closure, I will continue to raise this matter with the Welsh Government at every opportunity.”

Stephen Crabb MP also commented, saying: “This a senseless and damaging decision. For years doctors have been warning Welsh Government about growing recruitment problems across Wales and the need for a proper strategy to fill vacancies. And Welsh Government have done nothing.

“St Clements Surgery is a busy, well used and popular surgery. There is no reason for it to shut other than the incompetence of the Welsh Government in dealing with recruitment pressures in rural areas.”

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Pharmacy burglars smashed through ceiling

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THE POLICE have issued a warning following a burglary at a chemist in Milford Haven in which a large quantity of controlled drugs were stolen.

Dyfed-Powys Police is investigating the break-in Charles Street, which took place overnight on Wednesday, July 18.

Controlled drugs including boxes of diazepam and zopiclone, and bottles of oramorph were taken.

The pharmacist told The Herald: “We are open for business as usual despite a large amount of stock being taken, which in addition to what the police have listed also included codeine.

“We are having more stock delivered shortly so are able to meet our orders with customers.

“The criminals broke into the pharmacy, which is very secure all around, from the ceiling – they came in from the flat above the shop.”

“We are all very upset and find this distressing. This is the first time that anything like this has happened.”

Sergeant Andy Williams told The Herald: “A substantial amount of medication has been taken, many of which have the potential to cause harm if taken incorrectly.

“We are advising people to be aware in case the stolen items are discarded in a public place.”

Anyone with information about the break-in, who finds a quantity of drugs, or is offered any of the drugs named above, is urged to contact police by calling 101, quoting reference 64 of July 19.

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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Council and teaching union come to agreement over possible redundancies

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL and The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) have come to an agreement about the possibility of potential redundancies from Sir Thomas Picton and Tasker Milward staff.

Last month, nearly 100 teachers were involved in a strike over fears of job losses as the two schools merge to form a new one – Haverfordwest High VC School, which will open in September.

Now, both sides have come to an agreement that there will be no compulsory redundancies before the end of the 2019/2020 academic year.

A spokesperson for Pembrokeshire County Council said: “Following discussions with the Conciliation service ACAS regarding the dispute at Sir Thomas Picton and Tasker Milward schools, Pembrokeshire County Council and NASUWT -The Teacher’s Union – have reached agreement regarding any potential redundancies at the schools.

“Both sides look forward to working together in future for the benefit and wellbeing of the pupils.

“It has been agreed that there will be no compulsory redundancies before the end of the academic year 2019/2020.”

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Milford Haven: Five recognised for making a difference

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THE ACHIEVEMENTS of five hard-working women who have made a huge difference in their community in Milford Haven have been recognised nationally in the TPAS Cymru awards.

Sarah Howlin, Kimberly Phillips, Leeanna Povey, Linda Rose and Catrin Tattersall won third place in the Community Action category for their work on the Mount Estate.

Together, as the Mount Estate Play and Participation Team (MEPPT), they provide free weekly play sessions for families in a friendly and welcoming environment at the Orchard Community Centre.

There is a wide selection of toys and games together with a number of art and craft activities and a fire pit where families can chat and toast marshmallows.

On behalf of the team, Leeanna and Catrin attended the gala awards ceremony in Cardiff where they were presented with the award.

Leeanna said the team’s first reaction to hearing they’d been shortlisted was to burst out laughing.

“It’s not the sort of news you’re used to having,” she said. “Two of us went to the ceremony and we were both nervous wrecks and didn’t know what to expect, but everyone was lovely and we are a very happy household!”

Leeanna said the number attending the playgroup varies from week to week, with numbers up to 50 sometimes.

“It’s very rewarding,” she said. “Part of what we’re trying to do is to get the community together; there’s lots here for families to do, you can have a gas and if there’s something wrong we’re here for each other.”

She added that the team are keen to share their experience and will be attending Playday at Scolton Manor on Wednesday, August 1 to talk to others who are thinking of setting up similar groups.

Before launching the play sessions, MEPPT undertook a number of accredited courses, with help from Learning Pembrokeshire and the Council’s Learning and Development team. They have also been supported by Dyfed Powys Police and Milford Haven Town Council.

Damian Golden, Play Sufficiency Officer at Pembrokeshire County Council, supports the group along with Nia Davies, with training, grants and funding advice. He said he was delighted their work had been recognised.

“I’ve worked in this sector for many years and their journey is something very special indeed,” he said. “They really are changing things in their community. What they’ve achieved is extraordinary. It doesn’t happen every day.

“This award is important in that it cements their self-worth and is empowering – knowing that they have the strength to change things.”

Cllr Josh Beynon, County Councillor for Pembroke Dock (Llanion ward) is among those impressed by their work.

He said: “It’s a great testament to the parents who run the play activities on the Mount Estate to be taking home a national award from TPAS.

“Through their hard work they have proved that they are able to bring together a community and I hope they have inspired other communities across Pembrokeshire to undertake similar pieces of work to help those who need it.”

Nia Davies, County Council Housing Customer Liaison Officer, submitted the award nomination to TPAS along with Damian Golden.

She said: “This is a first for a Pembrokeshire County Council group to be nominated and awarded a national TPAS Social Housing Participation Award and I can think of no one more deserving than MEPPT!

“I hope other parents are inspired by this amazing group and are encouraged to do the same as it really does provide invaluable benefits to all members of the community.”

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