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GP Services to remain in Neyland

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A NEW plan for GP services for patients in and around Neyland has been agreed by Hywel Dda University Health Board and will be implemented this autumn.

Patients in the Neyland area will be aware that the application by Argyle Medical Group to close St. Clement’s Surgery this autumn was approved by the Health Board in April.

Work has been underway in recent months with local stakeholders to explore an alternative proposal to provide these vital services to patients affected by the planned closure.

Transport difficulties and additional pressure on appointments at Argyle Surgery are amongst the concerns of patients and local community representatives. Over recent months the Partners at Neyland and Johnston Surgery have been in negotiation with the Health Board regarding the Partners’ proposal to take on the care of those Argyle Surgery patients living in and around Neyland.

An agreement has been reached which retains GP services in Neyland for all patients, and protects the longer-term provision of these important services for the Neyland area.

From November 1, all patients registered with Argyle Surgery who live in the Neyland area will be able to have their registration automatically transferred from Argyle Medical Group to Neyland and Johnston Surgery, and have their care delivered locally by the team led by Dr Phillips and Dr Tobin.

To manage the increase in patient numbers, Neyland and Johnston Surgery will be moving their base in Neyland from the Health Centre at Charles Street to St. Clement’s Surgery. The Practice will continue to operate Johnston Surgery as normal.

The Health Board will continue to work with the Practice to plan for a longer-term solution for their premises to meet the needs of the growing Practice. In addition to moving into St. Clement’s Surgery, Neyland and Johnston Surgery will also be recruiting additional staff to their team to manage the increase in numbers.

Argyle Medical Group will continue to operate services from St. Clement’s Surgery until the handover of the building to the Partners of Neyland & Johnston Surgery. Patients should continue to access services there until the transition on November 1.

Those patients registered with Argyle Medical Group who would prefer to remain registered with the Argyle Medical group will be able to do so via an opt-out system to protect patient choice. Patients who choose to opt-out and remain with Argyle Medical Group will need to travel to Argyle Surgery in Pembroke Dock or St. Oswald’s Surgery in Pembroke.

The Health Board will be writing shortly to all affected patients to outline the changes and provide patients with the means to opt-out and remain registered with Argyle Medical Group if they so choose.

Patients who are happy to transfer to Neyland and Johnston Surgery and receive their care at St. Clement’s Surgery in Neyland or in Johnston, need do nothing and will automatically transfer from November 1.

Patients do not need to do anything until they receive letters advising them of the changes and how they can opt to remain with Argyle Medical Group if that is their preference.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care for Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “The Health Board has listened to the concerns of patients, Neyland Town Council, the Community Health Council and other stakeholders and is pleased to announce this plan for General Medical Services in Neyland and the surrounding area. We have welcomed the co-operation and engagement of all stakeholders in working towards this solution.”

Cllr Paul Miller welcomed the announcement: “I very much welcome the news from Hywel Dda that patients in Neyland will continue to be able to see a Doctor, in the town of Neyland.

“There’s been a lot of hard work gone on behind the scenes to make this possible and I’m grateful to the Health Board and to Neyland and Johnston Surgery for their efforts.

“That said, we need to continue the work together to ensure the transition is smooth, to ensure that access to appointments for patients in Neyland gets better and not worse under the new arrangements and ultimately to design a long-term, sustainable model for the delivery of GP Services for the people of Neyland.

“I look forward to continuing work with the Health Board to achieve this.”

Stephen Crabb MP told The Herald: ““This is a very positive move and the Health Board deserve credit for working out a common sense solution for St Clements surgery.  The proposed closure was the number one issue of concern to residents at my public meeting in Neyland recently, and I am pleased that the message that I and the others have delivered to the Health Board has got through.  However, this does not resolve the underlying problem of GP recruitment and this is a matter that the Welsh Government in Cardiff needs to get a grip on urgently.”

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Primary school teacher would ‘moan’ as he touched female pupils, court hears

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher would “moan” while he touched his female pupils in a sexual way, a witness said in Swansea Crown Court.

In total, 11 former pupils, who were all under 13, have come forward and accused James Oulton, 34, of sexually assaulting them.

Oulton denies all the charges – saying the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he had behaved appropriately all times.

One of the pupils, who was in year four at the time, opened day four of the trial by giving evidence via a video link.

The girl told the court: “He would put his arm around by back and backside.”

Under cross examination Chris Clee QC, for the defence, asked the witness: “Did you tell the police that you were touched in an inappropriate way?”

The witness answered: “Yes, teachers should not be touching in that way.”

James Oulton

Asked if what he was doing wrong, the witness replied:

“Yes, very wrong”

In cross examination letters and cards were produced, made the witness whilst in school, where she had said Mr. James Oulton was “the best teacher in the whole world.”

One of the cards said: “You’ve made my life complete”.

Another card said: “Thank you for being so nice, and thanks for everything that you’ve done for me.”

The witness added: “Despite what he did do, he was a good teacher.  

“He used to buy us treats.

“He was nice caring and a sweet and fun teacher – but not what he was doing.

Referring to the cards, she said: “I would definitely not be saying that stuff now.”

Explaining how she told her parents the witness said: “Once I realised that [x] was in his class, I asked her ‘did he do this stuff to you?’

“She said yes.

“I realised more and more it was wrong and it was time to grow up now, and to speak.

“As soon as I found out that this was happening to [x] I stood up and told my parents.

Asked if she had seen inappropriate behaviour happening to anybody else the witness answered: “He did it to most of the girls in the class, but he had his favourites.

Asked if she had spoken to other girls about the touching, the witness said: “Yes, I was just curious was it just me, or was it normal?”

“Teachers should most definitely not be doing that to students.

“Doing what?”, the witness was asked, “You said in your police interview that he would pull you off your chair and make you sit on his lap, is that true?”

“Yes,” was the reply.

“Did you try and stop him?” she was asked.

“Yes, I tried to push him off sometimes and said, ‘get off its weird’, but I didn’t want to make a scene.

“He would make me sit on his lap whilst he was marking my work.”

When asked by the defence barrister how she was sat on her teacher’s lap, and if it was under a desk, the witness answered: “No, not under the desk, as both of our legs wouldn’t fit under.”

The witness also said that when she was sat on the defendant’s knee he would make “a low grunting noise.”

Asked if she had spoken others about this case, the girl said: “Police told my mum and dad that there were very many people involved in the case.

“I thought it was just me and [x] that was going to be at court, I only recently discovered that others had come out.”

A second female pupil was also giving evidence via video link. She was 9-years-old at the time of the alleged offending.

Firstly, a pre-recorded interview was played in court in which the witness said: “My teacher, Mr. Oulton always put his hand up my leg like that and up my t-shirt.”

She added: “If he calls you over and he pulls you onto his lap, if you don’t, he pulls your chair over and makes you.”

“How would he make you?” the QC asked.

“He would grab your arm, push you, and then pull you in”, she replied.

When asked if this was a one off, the witness said that the defendant “did it every day.”

“How would you be sat on his lap?”, she was asked.

“He would have one arm on my stomach, then the other arm would be rubbing my leg.”

“He would swap arms and then put one arm up my t-shirt.”

When asked to clarify if it was under her t-shirt the girl explained: “Yes it was under my t-shirt rubbing his hands up and down.”

The witness added: “If I tried to get up for work, he would just grab my arm.”

“He would make a funny sound like a hissing airplane.”

“We had a helper in the class, and when he came in, he would stop, and then I could go and sit down.”

The trial continues.

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New trees planted to help town

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SEVERAL new trees have been planted on Riverside Avenue in Neyland.

They were planted by Grandiflora, courtesy of the Town Council which recently pledged to plant more trees in the town in an attempt to help the environment.

As well as helping the environment, the trees will prevent vehicles from being parked on the grass verges on Riverside Avenue, which had been severely churned up over the winter and looked unsightly.

The Town Council will be working with Pembrokeshire County Council regarding parking issues in Neyland.

The trees will be tended and watered over the summer period to ensure they reach their maximum potential and enhance the area for residents and visitors alike.

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Golden goodbye report likely to be critical

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A REPORT by Audit Wales into the departure of former CEO Ian Westley is very likely to contain criticism of senior council officers.

In November 2020, Mr Westley left Pembrokeshire County Council with a £95,000 pay-out, something which has been criticised by a number of councillors.

In a document before the Audit and Governance Committee on Tuesday (April 13), it says that termination payments to Chief Officers are routinely examined by Audit Wales but in the case of Mr Westley, the audit team was unable to locate a recorded decision to enter into the settlement agreement which led to a termination payment being made to the Chief Executive.

An Audit Office spokesperson said: “This appeared unusual and therefore the audit team decided to undertake an early examination of the process that resulted in the payment being made.”

No complaints were raised, by councillors or any other body, with Audit Wales but the number of concerns and questions being raised at following council meetings prompted them to commence an audit.

Audit Wales state: “Our audit fieldwork is substantially complete. However due to the complex nature of some of the issues involved we considered it necessary to take some external legal
advice. We are currently considering that advice. 

“In the near future we will draft a document setting out our provisional findings and conclusions. 

“Once this document is ready we will commence a clearance process to confirm factual accuracy. 

“If the document contains criticism of identifiable individuals, in the first instance we will provide those individuals with any extracts of the document that pertain to them. Once
we have confirmed the factual accuracy with individuals, we will send the full draft document to the Council’s Chief Executive to identify any remaining factual inaccuracies. 

“We will only issue the finalised document once the clearance process has been completed. #

“We are unable to provide a definitive timetable for reporting because it will depend on the responses we receive within the clearance process.”

Only a handful of senior officers were involved in the procedure surrounding Ian Westley’s departure.

The inference which can be safely drawn from Audit Wales’ report to the Audit Committee is that some of its content will be critical either of councillors, senior officers, or both.

The process of asking those named to respond is known as Maxwellisation, a legal practice that allows persons who are to be criticised in an official report to respond prior to publication.

The report highlights the exceptional nature of the case at Pembrokeshire County Council and demonstrates the sensitivity of the issues raised.

If senior officers are sharply criticised or found to have failed in their duty to their employer, they will almost certainly have to go.

The council’s interim Chief Executive will read the document after maxwellisation.

It is also likely that the council’s newly appointed Chief Executive, Will Bramble, will have a chance to see it.

The Audit Wales spokesperson added: “We are unable to provide a definitive timetable for reporting because it will depend on the responses we receive within the clearance process. We are unable to respond to queries about our emerging findings whilst the audit is progressing, and until we have finalised our conclusions.”

In January, Cllr Jamie Adams had called for the council to commence an internal investigation into Mr Westley’s departure but that was deferred to allow for the Audit Wales review to be completed.

Cllr Adams said that the decision of payment should have been a ‘democratic decision’ and has asked why that wasn’t the case.

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