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Withybush and Glangwili to be downgraded following consultation

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THE HEALTH BOARD has presented its recommendations to major changes in the way health services are delivered in west Wales today (Sept 26) – and one of those was to downgrade Withybush General Hospital and Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.

At the meeting at County Hall, Carmarthen  the Hywel Dda UHB presented outputs from its recent consultation on the future provision of health and care services to the general population together with a clinical recommendation which will be considered by the Board.

The health board’s recommendation has now been published.

The recommendations were:
• Bronglais and Prince Philip in Llanelli will retain ‘acute hospital services’
• Glangwili and Withybush will be downgraded – they will be ‘repurposed’ to offer a range of services to support a social model for health and well-being, designed with local people to meet their needs.
• A new urgent and planned care hospital will be developed in the south of the health board area.

This is not the final decision, but at this stage a recommendation.

A further detailed meeting is scheduled for the end of November. If the local community health council refuses to back the plan then it could be sent to Health Secretary Vaughan Gething for a final decision.

However, Mr Gething warned earlier this year that NHS services in Wales could ‘collapse’ without urgent transformation and called on politicians from all parties to be ‘grown up’ and to not ‘run away’ from difficult choices.

Campaigners may also ultimately try to challenge the health board’s plans in the courts – although previous attempts to overturn decisions were unsuccessful.

March: Campaigners wanted to retain all Withybush General Hospital’s services (Pic Herald)

One of the recommendations in the board papers is to develop plans for the new hospital. The board is asked to progress consideration of location options within the defined new hospital zone, between Narberth and St. Clears, through a formal feasibility study.

  • Work with local people to develop models to provide enhanced support to those communities furthest from main urgent care and hospital services.
  • Consider the impact and opportunities a new hospital in the south of the Health Board area would provide to Bronglais General Hospital.
  • Develop a plan for the approach to managing emergency conditions which are time-sensitive.
Chair of the Community Health Council Dr John Morgan said: “In our day-to-day work we’re clear that the public’s frustrations come from big problems in the health system, so over the coming years the whole system has to change to give people what they need. For that reason we think the Health Board should continue to make major system-wide plans.
“However, some of the proposed changes have really worried people. Given that we feel any change to health services must provide better quality health services to the public these changes need to be looked at individually with more public involvement. With a number of the proposed changes years away the Health Board needs to provide more detail on how they would work. Only then will the CHC be in a position to consider whether we think the more controversial changes are in the public’s best interests.”

The CHC has seen how people are welcoming more care being provided in community settings close to home.

People are less happy about placing any services further away especially if they needed care in an emergency.

Public involvement in the consultation and large-scale petitions has communicated these views loud and clear.

Dr Morgan continued: “Listening to what the public have said, the consultation has created as many questions as answers. We think that there need to be strong foundations in place to build a new system upon. This means GP practices that are more robust, well-functioning established community services, better use of technology and better travel and transport arrangements, to name but a few.”

Chief Officer Sam Dentten added: “We’re starting a long journey over the next few years. We welcome change because it’s needed, but that change must bring accessible, high quality and safe NHS services. The Health Board must commit to more engagement with the public as its plans unfold and the CHC will be listening closely, maintaining our right to take matters further if we don’t think the change is in the public interest.”

Plaid Cyrmu has responded to the decision of Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB) to downgrade Withybush and Glangwili hospitals by calling on the Welsh Government’s Health Secretary to intervene and properly merge health and social services.

Helen Mary Jones, Plaid Cymru AM for Mid and West Wales said: “This decision is the latest in a long line in the never ending saga that is hospital reconfiguration and in particular the persistent proposals to remove essential emergency services from smaller hospitals whilst failing to strengthen primary care and tackle the chronic workforce shortages faced by rural health boards.

“It is clear to us that the Health Board’s choice doesn’t address how services will actually be improved in the short to medium term. There is no proposal for better out-of-hours care, no plan for substantial increases in social care services, and no plans for investing in the ambulance services – only the removal of essential services and the hope that maybe, one day, we’ll see a new hospital.

“The decision also makes no mention of the transformation that needs to occur in the relationship with local authorities and the third sector for the changes to be realised.

Adam Price, Plaid Cymru AM for Carmarthen and East Dinefwr, said: “The obsession with endless reconfiguration of secondary care has to stop.  Where are the positive plans, such as those Plaid Cymru has presented, to  strengthen GP services and preventative healthcare; invest in medical training and tackling staff recruitment and retention?  There is a vacuum of information.  Creating an integrated health and social care model which works in the community should be done first in order to shape the hospital services we need.

“There’s nothing radical or transformational about closing a few hospitals and opening a new one.  The transformation comes by recognising that model isn’t delivering, and it is only by working with an integrated health and community care system will we truly change people’s lives.

“Furthermore, the health board intends ploughing ahead with a new hospital without a single penny being guaranteed for its construction. We need an urgent statement from the Health Secretary to confirm the Welsh Government will guarantee the costs.  Without that guarantee, today’s plans are meaningless and nothing more than an attempt to deflect attention from the desire to downgrade local hospitals.”

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Protest over animal welfare concerns at Bramble Hill Farm

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LOCALS held a peaceful protest at the site of a Pembroke Dock farm, where over 200 animals were removed after a multi agency response to animal welfare concerns last month.

Around 100 worried locals from Pembroke and Pembroke Dock gathered at the entrance to Bramble Hill Farm last Friday (Feb 15) at 4pm. Those present believed the farm owners are still in possession of dogs, which they cited as the reason for the protest. Head of Environment and Public Protection at Pembrokeshire County Council, Richard Brown later confirmed that there were two dogs left on the farm, but explained they were elderly and looked after. Locals hoped the protest would mean the removal of any animals still left at the property and a ban imposed to prevent any further animals being kept at the property or by the owners.

Officers from Dyfed-Powys Police were present, with the Herald reporter in attendance being told that the police were ensuring it remained peaceful and to keep traffic congestion to a minimum. There was evident hostility towards to the local authorities and RSPCA amongst the protesters, with many feeling that their concerns about the farm were not dealt with soon enough by the relevant organisations.

Speaking to the crowd, Richard Brown said: “So the idea of what we do is, we are proceeding with our enquiries and get the case together. If we get a successful conviction, it’s an opportunity to get a ban on keeping animals. Without that conviction we can’t get a ban.”

He was challenged numerous times on whether Sean Burns, owner of the farm, has been prosecuted for animal cruelty. Mr Brown then confirmed that ‘he has been prosecuted previously’.

He added: “We have to be careful not to prejudice any case. All of our interests is animal welfare. We can’t just go in and remove animals because people want us to. We don’t have those powers.

“There is a range of offences being investigated and a range of individuals being investigated.”

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Neyland woman imprisoned for driving while disqualified

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A 35-YEAR-OLD woman who was caught driving while disqualified twice in four days days has been sentenced to six months in prison.

Victoria Anne James, of College Park, Neyland, was stopped by Dyfed-Powys Police roads policing officers in Johnston on Friday, February 15. She was reported for the offences and her Alfa Romeo car was seized.

James was stopped a second time by police on Monday, February 18, for driving while disqualified while driving another car.

She was arrested and charged with two counts of driving while disqualified and two counts of driving without insurance.

She was convicted at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Courts that same day and received a six month prison sentence, and received a further 24 months Driving Disqualification.

Sergeant Justin Williams said: “Police intelligence led officers to stop Victoria Anne James on February 15 where she was reported for offences and her car was seized. For her to commit the same offence two days later shows her disregard for the law.

“I hope this targeted, swift work from roads policing officers and the courts, which has resulted in a prison sentence serves as a stark warning to James and others considering flouting the laws on our roads. We are monitoring our roads and we will take robust action to ensure we keep other drivers on our roads safe by upholding the law.”

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Boy took his own life after failure to refer him for psychiatric support

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THE INQUEST into the death of 14 year-old Derek Brundrett, who was found hanged at Pembroke School in December 2013, has found that there were individual failings in efforts to get psychiatric support for the teenage boy – who then went on to take his own life.

Derek had seven different social workers and record keeping by social services was in a “shocking state of affairs” leading up to his death.

Returning a narrative verdict, the Assistant Coroner, Paul Bennett, said: “That Derek Brundrett took his own life and intended to do so in circumstances where, despite efforts to refer him for psychiatric support there was a failure to do so.”

Although no systemic failures were found, the Assistant Coroner ruled that there was a failure to refer by a social worker, a failure by a GP to provide extra information when referrals in 2012 and 2013 were declined, and a further failure to provide the relevant information on the appropriate referral form of a Looked After Child.

Derek’s death was in the context that he had been returned to foster care and was concerned about a return to the Pupil Referral Unit.

Derek’s actions were not considered to be a cry for help but rather a deliberate attempt at self-harm, the Coroner’s report stated.

The inquest had previously heard there were numerous failed attempts to refer him to mental health services.

A social services referral plan was not completed by Derek’s social worker because “she believed him to be happy”.

The inquest also heard Derek’s GP had made “routine” referrals for mental health treatment in 2012 and 2013.

Angela Lodwick, head of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for the Hywel Dda University Health Board, said they had to “prioritise children with severe mental health disorders”.

She added requests for more information about Derek’s condition went unanswered.

But she told the inquest that, at the time, CAMHS was not proactive in seeking more information.

Ms Lodwick said CAMHS would have probably “taken him on referral and made an assessment” if they had known about Derek’s risk-taking behaviour and talk of suicide in 2013, such as when he climbed onto the school roof.

She told the inquest the system had been inadequate and “the position was that everyone sat on their hands waiting” but CAMHS has since made improvements.

A spokesman for the Pembrokeshire County Council said: “The death of a child is a profound loss and all the professionals involved in this tragedy feel great sympathy for Derek and his family and friends. We would like to repeat our sincere condolences to them at this time.

“Derek’s loss is deeply felt by those individuals who had formed close and caring relationships with him.

“We would like to thank the Coroner for his thorough investigation and consideration of the case.

“We will, of course, reflect upon all of the issues that have been raised during the Inquest, and consider what lessons can be learned with a view to continuing to ensure the safeguarding and well-being of all children and young persons served by Pembrokeshire County Council.”

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